Resocialising your dog Post-Lockdown
Life without Lockdown is inching closer, and the country is on the verge of exploding back into life. While many of us are looking forward to our pre-COVID lives being restored to normal without a second thought, it could be more of a challenge than we realise for our dogs.
Dogs of all ages, but particularly "Lockdown Puppies" who have only ever lived in the COVID era, are susceptible to negative impacts from limited socialisation, limited stimulation and inordinate amounts of time spent with the same humans in the same environment.
Your dog might have become more wary of strangers, nervous of or out of practice in how to behave around other dogs, territorial or defensive of the home or family members, anxious when left alone or not in direct company of their humans, or displaying other behaviour which seem out of character for their usual confident and calm self. Puppies will often not know anyone or anything outside of the small life they have lived so far, well accustomed to a small group of people in a small number of places, and easily overwhelmed or frightened by anything outside these realms.
Dogs who have not continued to enjoy regular socialisation and exposure to as much as is possible and safe to do so over the past unusual year have not experienced the correct balance of stimuli that they need on a very basic level. As dog parents it is exclusively our responsibility to ensure that we are tending to our dogs' fundamental needs every day, global pandemic or not, and this is especially important for young dogs.
A human free way to make sure your dog is getting the interaction they need with other dogs on a daily basis is Doggy Daycare. While out on walks it can be difficult to gauge who you are meeting, as well as tricky to navigate play time between dogs at a safe distance from their humans (& if their recall isn't quite sharp enough, off lead play can turn a walk into a chase pretty quickly!) At K9 Anytime your dog will mix with dogs of all ages, breeds, shapes and sizes all day long in a safe, secure and most importantly COVID regulation environment, and you'll collect a tired and happy pup at the end of the day.
If your dog is showing signs of feeling the effects of Lockdown in their behaviour, it's important we take things slow when we get to the "other side". Assuming that they will pick up where they left off 12 months ago is unfair and can lead to putting them in situations they aren't prepared for or comfortable with.
If you are working from home and your dog is happily accustomed to following you from room to room all day long and being your new 24/7 office buddy, it's time to think about what life will look like when things open back up. A stable, well rounded and happy dog can enjoy their own company with ease, and spending every waking moment with a person can be damaging for a dog's confidence, independence and ability to cope outside of their human's company. Even if you unavoidably find yourself in the house with your pup all day long, it's helpful to spent time apart. Giving them the time and space to settle while you get to work in another room is a great way to establish a healthy routine of independence and contentedness without you. Spending time at daycare is also a useful way to bridge the gap between being apart from you while occupied and stimulated at the same time, allowing them to associate time "on their own two feet" with positive experiences.
As well as the obvious dog to dog socialisation benefits of Doggy Daycare, this also allows your dog to spend time in the company of other humans outside of their family, and getting accustomed to developing good behaviours around other dogs and humans, too. Dog parents often misunderstand or underestimate the importance of "generalising behaviours" (ie. applying one behaviour to lots of different environments, circumstances and distractions and being able to behave the same way despite varying factors around them) and this is achieved through exposure to as much variety as possible on as regular a basis as possible.
If your dog is unsure of other people, busier places or losing their confidence around other dogs, then making sure they take things at their own pace, with dogs who are suitable, social and reliable in environments that are safe and secure is imperative. Negative interactions with other dogs when they are already feeling anxious can magnify their emotions and the impact of their experience, so be sure to socialise your dog with other dogs and humans you can trust.