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Puppy playtime, socialisation and safe car travel

Puppy playtime, socialisation and safe car travel

Your puppy is a companion animal with loads of energy. They rely on you for mental and physical stimulation, which means plenty of playtime, both at home and when you venture out.


When travelling to the local dog park or another favourite spot, it's important to ensure your dog is kept safe in the car. Keep reading for helpful information on how to keep your puppy entertained, the social skills they need and travelling safely.

Entertaining your puppy

Daily entertainment is essential for bringing up a happy and healthy puppy. Some activities are just for fun; others are about building fitness and creating opportunities for training. Here are some ideas for how to entertain your puppy.

Daily walks

A dog’s smell is their best sense so once they are fully vaccinated, even short walks to the local dairy provide a world of different things to smell and explore. Be prepared to take it slowly, so that your puppy can sniff all those interesting scents. Daily walks are also a chance to train your pup to walk nicely on a leash.

A range of toys

Toys provide entertainment and education. Choose toys you can use with your pup (balls for fetch, tug ropes), as well as toys that require some figuring out. Safe puppy puzzle toys, also known as occupy toys, are handy for times when you’re not around to play with your pup. When your puppy's teeth are coming through, provide chew toys that soothe gums and help their teeth to come through.

Fun and games

Training, tricks and games (including agility) enrich your puppy’s life and teach important skills. They also help you bond positively with your puppy. When you’re playing with a dog or training a young puppy, keep sessions short. Over-exertion can lead to injury. Games to try with your pup include tug-of-war with a tug toy, hide and seek around the house, fetch, playing with a water sprinkler and jumping over small obstacles. As your puppy gets older, try Frisbee catching, a flirt pole (long pole with a rope on the end), a home-made agility course, dog dancing (see You Tube for demonstrations) and bubble chasing.


Gaining social skills

Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, it’s time to introduce them to other dogs and new situations. Try to keep these experiences as positive as you can, as a bad experience now could result in long-lasting behavioural problems. Keep meetings short at first, then increase social time as your puppy’s confidence grows. (It is recommended to wait until your puppy is fully vaccinated as these will help prevent them from contracting potentially-fatal dog diseases. Learn more about puppy vaccinations here)

Visit friends with dogs

For starters, visit friends with dogs to give your puppy some dog-on-dog time. Or invite friends with dogs around to your place. Make sure the other dog is happy before letting your puppy say hello. At first, your pup may be timid about meeting another dog, although some puppies literally throw themselves at a new acquaintance. Watch the body language of both dogs. If either dog is uncomfortable, give them some time away from each other or try again another day.

Keep a close eye on your puppy at dog parks

Dog parks aren’t for every dog. Timid dogs can be overwhelmed by the exuberance of bouncy dogs and small dogs can be injured by big dogs. If you want to try a walk in a dog park, keep your puppy on their leash at first.

You’ll learn a lot by watching your puppy with other dogs. Does your pup roll onto their back when another dog approaches? Do they try to run away? Or do they run right up and ask to start playing? Every part of a dog’s body tells a story, so learn your puppy’s body language so that you can intervene or have a hasty retreat if necessary.

Puppy preschool

After their first vaccination, your pup can join a puppy preschool. These classes help puppies and owners with basic training and socialisation. Contact your local Animates Vetcare clinic to see if they have a programme starting soon.

Doggy day care

If you work full-time and there’s nobody at home during the day, doggy day care prevents boredom and grows your puppy’s social skills. They will need to be fully vaccinated, desexed and trained before they can go for a trial day. If doggy day care isn’t suitable for your puppy, you can also look into adventure walks with experienced dog walkers.

Children and puppies

Children who want to make friends with your puppy should offer a hand for a sniff first. This lets your puppy get to know the child a little before patting or playing. Sometimes playtime with children can get a bit too exciting for your pup, so keep an eye on things and keep sessions short. Allow your puppy to rest after an energetic play session.

Interaction with adults

Ask adults to greet your puppy with an outstretched hand. Sniffing always comes before patting and ear rubs. Encourage your pup to meet all sorts of people – different ages, genders, ethnicities and clothing styles. Also expose your puppy to the things that accompany people, like prams, scooters and bikes. To become a well-rounded adult dog, your puppy needs a wide range of experiences.


Bad dog behaviours

At Animates we’re great believers in positive reinforcement for puppy training. Basically, you reward good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour. But this doesn’t work for all dogs, so if your puppy barks too much, gets aggressive or acquires a bad habit, we recommend consulting a dog behaviourist. The sooner you understand why the behaviour is happening, the sooner you can fix it.



Dog car safety

In a car crash at 50km/h, an unrestrained 25kg dog becomes an 1100kg projectile. That’s not good for you or the dog. At Animates we recommend use of a purpose-built dog seat belt attachment that helps to keep your pup restrained and safe while you’re driving. We also have specialised puppy car seats and booster seats for small dogs. Check out our dog travel accessories.