Your Puppy's Roadmap Out of Lockdown Guest blog by Caroline Wilkinson It’s been a year of change - not only for us, but also for our dogs. For our adult dogs, they’ve missed out on the social experiences that they were used to. But, more importantly, for our puppies, we’ve been unable to provide them with those important social experiences at a young age. For those of you who welcomed a puppy into your home during the past year, it may mean that moving forward you’ll be introducing your dog to some completely new situations. As we follow our own roadmap out of restrictions, it’s important we also consider what will be changing (yet again) for our dogs. As you start to expand your puppy’s social circle, alongside your own, you might find they don’t respond as you’d hope or expect. Even for the most social of puppies, they may appear cautious about engaging with family and friends. They might seem unsure about new people entering your garden or house. You may see them displaying fearful body language and looking to you for reassurance. Make sure you offer support whenever your dog needs it and follow these three tips to help support your puppy in - and out - of the home. Keep Experiences Short and Sweet With any new experience - whether it be new sights or social interactions - we want to take things slow, following the “short and sweet” rule. “Short” in length so it’s not overwhelming for your puppy, and “sweet” so they felt positively about the process. Arm yourself with some tasty Forthglade Soft Bite Treats and give your puppy a scattering of small pieces whenever they’re encountering something new. You can ask anyone you’re meeting up with to throw a few treats your puppy’s way too! Watch How Your Dog Responds After the Event Our dog’s behaviour after a walk or social interaction sometimes gives us more information about how they found it, than how they behave at the time. If your puppy is rather stoic while out on a walk but comes home and has the “zoomies” for a good few minutes, it might be a sign that things were more stressful than we thought. Dogs who find it hard to settle once home, are burning off some of the stress energy they felt while out in the world. Chewing and sniffing both allow the creation of some relaxed, feelgood hormones in our puppy’s bodies. It can offer a little stress detox. If you see that your puppy seems a little wound up after an adventure, scatter some of their food in the garden for them to sniff for - or stuff a food toy with some Forthglade wet food. Teach Your Puppy a Calm “Settle” While we’re moving towards inviting people back into our homes, use this time to teach your puppy to settle and relax on a specific mat or blanket. Initially teach them to step onto the mat by throwing a treat on it, then follow up with another tossed onto the mat if they stay there. Add a cue such as “place” or “on your mat” and then build up the amount of time your puppy is happy hanging out on it before being released. You can start to add some distractions slowly, such as knocking, talking loudly, or moving around the room. This mat can help when you have visitors over or when you’re able to take your pup to a dog friendly cafe or pub. Have fun with your puppy training and don’t forget to tune into our Facebook LIVE sessions with Caroline for more top tips and tricks – head to our Facebook page to stay updated!