Frenchies are pretty popular because of their bat-like ears and short wrinkled nose. They are easy to handle because of their size and full of energy. They can be notorious as well as gentle at the same time. You will find this breed suddenly full of energy for an hour and then taking long naps for several hours. They are generally not very good when left alone at home, as they are loyal to their owners and always want to be by their side.
With such an outgoing personality, you would assume that this dog would be really easy to socialize with, and that is true generally, but most puppies born in the year 2020 are a bit shy as they were confined to stay inside for months due to the lockdown. When dogs are not socialized at an early age, they find it tough to be around other dogs and humans easily as adults, as it is an abrupt adjustment. Especially with a small breed like Frenchie, it can get a bit tricky. While sources like Trending Breeds website can help you a lot in such a scenario, there are still a few tips we would like to share.
Why is Socialization Important?
Socialization means exposing your puppy to other animals and people. You take them to new places and make them fearless. Animals have the instinct to fear the unknown for their survival, which is why it is essential to teach puppies new things, so they do not fear any.
As a puppy, dogs are curious hence the process is much simpler, but as the dog becomes an adult, the process can get more challenging but not impossible. If you have a dog during the lockdown, you must suddenly find it hard to socialize with the dog. Puppies who do not have these experiences can grow up fearful and withdrawn. But it is not too late yet; with a little effort, you can make your dog fearless too.
What Has Happened to Pandemic Pets?
As per the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 23 million pets, including dogs and cats, were adopted during the pandemic. Due to lockdown and restrictions in various nations, these puppies have only known the place where they have been living with their owners. They could hardly meet another person, let alone with another pet. Dog owners did make the effort to take the dog outside, but obviously, due to the 6 feet rule, the dogs hardly got any exposure compared to regular times.
Not just people, it was months before many pets met another dog. Hence, the anxiety around humans, along with other animals, got high in such pets. Post lockdown, when things have gotten back to normal, suddenly, so much hustle and bustle can be too much for the dog to take. Hence, take baby steps to socialize the animal with others.
What is the Socialization Window?
There is something called a socialization window that opens up when the puppy is about three weeks to sixteen weeks. This is the phase where the puppy is open to new experiences and is less fearful. This is the best time to expose them to various environments, people, and animals to ensure they are not frightful. You can create and form memories that help them distinguish between safe and unsafe.
The socialization of puppies is why breeders prefer to keep them with their siblings and parents for at least eight weeks before the owners can take them home. This is the phase where the puppy learns critical socialization behavior from its mother and littermates. After eight weeks, when brought home, they are ready to experience new experiences.
During a pandemic, these puppies were brought into homes and socially isolated from the outside world; hence, they missed being exposed to stimulants that would make them fearless. As they have grown adults, it gets tough to re-tune their persona.
Can I Socialize An Adult Dog with Others?
The answer is still yes, but it gets more challenging as the dog grows old. This means you have to start immediately.
It should be a positive experience for the dog to be able to socialize now. Understand that initially, they might seem scared by everything, which is normal. Just the right amount of slow exposure makes the situation better.
Take Different Walk Routes:
Walking the dog on the same path for months gets desensitized to that route only, but any other course might cause anxiety. Better keep changing your walk routes to ensure your dog is calm wherever you take it.
Go on Trips:
To ensure your dog is okay with being in different environments, you need to take it out more often. Apart from daily walks, go on long trips to different places for treks where the dog gets desensitized to various smells and becomes more comfortable in nature.
A word of caution: Frenchies are not great on long treks or walks due to their small snout, making it hard for them to breathe. Take it slow, and do not overheat the dog.
Visit a Dog Park:
What is better than visiting a local dog park to make your dog more comfortable around other dogs?
Start by visiting the park when it is less crowded, probably during afternoons, so that the dog first smells the scents of other dogs and becomes less anxious. Slowly introduce your dog to other dogs. If the park is overcrowded, avoid it the initial few times you visit, as this might cause anxiety in your dog.
Several parks also have different sections allocated for small-breed dogs, making socializing much easier.
You cannot expect your dog to be social in a day just because you are true to expose it to other humans and dogs. Rome was not built in a day, and you cannot build your dog’s confidence in a day too.
Frenchies are small breed dogs; hence they may take more time to show confidence when outside amongst larger dogs. It is a slow and steady process that will need time and patience. You cannot speed it up as it will stress the dog and only create bad experiences.
The Bottom Line – How to Socialize a Lockdown Frenchie
You may try all the tips but remember, every dog has certain limitations, and your French Bulldog might be fearful of something its entire life, which is okay.
Every dog is a different personality and temperament, which you need to work around. They can get comfortable with certain situations but do not jump the guns yet. They may still be uncomfortable in a few other scenarios. Do not push them too much into this process too early, or they will be more anxious and fearful.
More Helpful Frenchie Articles:
Essentials for bringing home a new French Bulldog
Do French Bulldogs get along with cats?