Socialize Your Dog During Social Distancing

September 1st, 2020

In the age of social distancing, it’s important to find ways to keep your dog active, socialized and healthy. Luckily, outdoor walks are encouraged, provided you can maintain six feet of distance from others. But there will be hot days when you, and your pup, would rather stay in the air conditioning. So, how do you socialize your dog when you can even socialize yourself? Read on for some indoor exercises and tips you can use in the time of COVID.

Bored dogs can get into trouble, so be sure to spend time with your furry pal to keep them active and happy. Much like us humans, dogs need to exercise for 30-60 minutes every day. How long and how hard you play depends on your dog’s breed and current health status. Consult a vet or one of the knowledgeable staff at Happy Hound to get specific advice for your dog. Remember, never push them if they are visibly tired, keep it fun! Some easy indoor exercises include:

Fetch: Even in small apartments you can toss toys across a room, or find a long hallway.

Tug o’ war: Gently tug with a rope toy or a toy long enough to keep your fingers away from their mouth. 

Build an Obstacle Course: Use those empty boxes, chairs, pillows, toilet paper rolls, whatever you can find, get creative!

Hide ’n Seek: Hide favorite toys around the house. Level up and try to get your dog to remember their names. You can also hide yourself!

Puzzles: Fill a Kong or puzzle bowl with a favorite food mixture to help stretch out mealtime. Try freezing it to make it more challenging – also great on hot days.

Teach ‘em New Tricks: Even older dogs like to have their mind stimulated. You can also brush up on the basics: sit, shake, stay, come, drop it, down, etc. 

Dance or Jog Around the House: Get up off the couch and encourage your pooch to join in. This is good for all of you!

With any new activity, use calm praise and encouragement with treats (not too many!) and lots of scratches. The aim of game time is not ‘winning’, it is being active, using up energy, socializing and most importantly, having fun!

Another dilemma with avoiding people and places is that puppies, and some new adoptees, may not be properly socialized with other dogs or people. While safety comes first, there are ways to help your doggo gain exposure to others in healthy ways:

Outdoor Dog Park: They offer plenty of room to run around, dogs to meet and people to sniff, while you can maintain your distance from the other humans. 

Patio Pup: Bring your pooch out in the yard or driveway and just watch the world go by. They will see different people, dogs, cats, wildlife and hear and smell new things.

Play dress up: Seriously. Don wild outfits, carry boxes like a delivery person, wear winter clothes and boots, use your imagination (and Halloween costumes!). This will help expose them to different looks, movements and interactions.

Go for a Drive: Great if the dog park feels too risky. You can park near active places and let your dog watch, or drive around and let them see and smell different things.

Exposure Therapy: Foster good coping skills to sudden environmental changes (loud noises, things suddenly appearing). They follow your lead, so remain calm and happy. Reassure them by offering comfort and rewarding brave behavior, but don’t force them to interact.

Try the Puppy Park or Doggy Daycare at Happy Hound: Only dogs allowed! Our specialized and safe puppy care allows your fur baby to play with other puppies under our skilled handlers watch. Also great for when you just need a break at home.

For those of you who adopted a ‘quarantine puppy’, congratulations! Whether you’re working from home, have kids at home all the time now, or just needed some company, spending more time at home gives you plenty of time to bond and do proper dog training. Of course, it still requires discipline on your part to be consistent with your commands and rewards. If you are struggling, Happy Hound offers several puppy and dog training courses to help you out.

Feel free to get creative and have fun with your dog. At the end of the day, they are just happy to have you around more often. While you don’t want them to get too dependent on you, which can lead to separation anxiety, use this time to build your bond and encourage better behaviors. Pay attention to your dog and look for signs of dehydration, fatigue, or irritation as then you’ll know playtime is over. ‘Short and sweet’, and ‘low and slow’ is best for new experiences.

Visit Happy Hound for expert boarding, daycare, dog training, dog walking and grooming. When you can’t watch your pooch or need some extra care, Happy Hound is here to help give your dog a happy, healthy, social experience. We are committed to social distancing, following all hygiene and safety protocols and complying with all health guidelines. Please call us with any questions or concerns. We hope to see you and your doggo soon!

Remember, right now, it is still best to stay home and practice social distancing. While socialization is important for your dog (and you!), health comes first. To stay even safer, try bringing your dog into your video chats or consider virtual pet training services. Please use caution and only do what is comfortable and safe for you, your family, community and of course, your pet.