How to Socialise My Puppy with People During Social Distancing

The Coronavirus lockdown has presented new puppy owners with a problem … how to socialise their puppies with no puppy classes and with vets and groomers only seeing the most urgent cases.

Created: 6/24/2020 Updated: 8/24/2021 - Val Strong

behaviour, COVID-19, puppy, training, work from home

The Coronavirus lockdown has presented new puppy owners with a problem … how to socialise their puppies with no puppy classes and with vets and groomers only seeing the most urgent cases.

The good news is that there are ways to bring up a well-balanced puppy even in lockdown! In this OSCAR blog, we are going to give you some helpful tips and advice on how you can still effectively socialise your puppy despite experiencing the restraints of lockdown and social distancing.

Puppy socialisation and the breeder during lockdown

Breeders can start the process of socialisation and confidence by introducing their puppies to novel sights, sounds and smells. Various noise CDs and apps are available which can be played at increasing volume while puppies eat and play.

Garden and kitchen herbs can be presented for puppies to investigate; but keep them in pots or jars with perforated lids to reduce the risk of puppies eating something they should not.

Providing different surfaces for young, inquisitive puppies to walk on helps to produce bold and inquisitive puppies. Here are some examples you can try:

Pomeranian puppies socialising

Puppy socialisation and the new owners during lockdown

New puppy owners can continue the work of the breeder when their puppies come home. Although your puppy is unlikely to meet the one hundred different people that some behaviourists recommend, the family can dress up and at least make sure the puppy has seen a variety of characters!

Consider trying out …

  • Hi-Viz

  • using a walking stick

  • wearing hats and sunglasses

  • making funny noises

Wearing different perfume or aftershave will also give a puppy a new experience to learn from. Using noise CDs and apps while feeding or playing should continue throughout the first year of life, and again before expected noisy events such as Bonfire Night.

Small to medium sized puppies can be taken out in their owner’s arms before their vaccinations are complete to see the world. With a large breed puppy some outdoor habituation can be done from the safety of the front garden. Short car journeys can be taken on a regular basis too.

Socialising your puppy with people and the outdoors

An advantage of lockdown and social distancing is that puppies can learn that not everyone and every dog is there to be jumped on. When a puppy is old enough to go for walks, he can be rewarded for showing calm interest in passing people and dogs by his handler, rather than expecting lashings of praise and treats from every stranger.

It is possible that ‘lockdown’ puppies will have more manners than those raised when everyone was encouraged to stroke and feed them.

The relaxation of lockdown means that puppies can be taken on walks away from home as soon as their vaccination course is complete. Owners should seek out a variety of different outdoor environments to exercise and socialise their puppy. Always praise calm interest in people, traffic, livestock and whatever else is encountered.

Pug being washed and getting used to being handled.

Socialising your puppy with vets and the groomers

Sadly, vets and groomers can’t offer the sort of puppy socialisation visits they have done in the past, but, again, there is plenty that puppy owners can do at home. All puppies should be trained to accept handling and grooming. If the puppy is a small or medium breed getting them used to being handled on a table from a young age will help them with vets and groomers. A top tip is to use a toy that can be stuck to the wall and filled with soft cheese or (dog safe) peanut butter for the puppy to lick while gentle grooming and handling take place. Giving a word to each part you handle can increase the puppy’s confidence during real examinations.

Although lockdown and social distancing measures may provide some restriction to the ‘normal’ way we socialise and train young puppies, our ‘new normal’ way of life provides some great advantages for young puppy behaviour and development.

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Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email