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Updated: May 19, 2020

Lockdown is easing and the team at CityPets have been fielding questions about how to reintroduce dogs back into social situations. So, we have put together this simple guide so you can feel confident moving forward.

The excellent news is that dogs are already social animals, social manners are being learned from birth from their mums and littermates. The groundwork has already been done, now you just need to set your pup up for success as you transition back into off-lead parks and beaches.

For a happy healthy transition, we recommend following these guidelines:

The Eye-Flick

You have an opportunity to use these last days of level three lockdown to re-establish the basis of your connection by rewarding the ‘eye flick’. This is when your dog’s eyes flick to your face and demonstrates that he or she is watching you for cues as to their next move. Without this eye connection there cannot be a conversation between yourself and your dog, it is that vital! The eye-flick can be achieved through playing a simple game whereby you constantly carry treats or toys, (whichever motivates your dog). Make a sound to attract your dog’s attention, the moment your dog gives it to you via the eye-flick, reward. The sound you use must be exclusively used for this purpose. Play this game continuously throughout the day, it is simple, fun and the basis of all future conversations you will have with your dog. We cannot overstate how valuable this connection is when you’re out in the world together and distractions abound.

Exercise Before Social Interaction

Take a long hike or play a fun game of fetch with your dog before hitting the dog parks. Keep your dog moving and expending their energy and use this time to reinforce the eye-flick. Once a dog has spent their pent-up energy, they are far more likely to be better mannered meeting new environments and other dogs.

Use Dog Parks Where People Are Walking Not Milling

Dogs do better when meeting from side on, rather than nose to nose. This positions them physically as non-threatening to other dogs and goes a long way towards loading their bases for positive encounters. Being in an environment where other dogs and people are walking with purpose, maximises the possibility of polite social encounters.

Positivity We all know our dogs are sensitive to our state of mind, so keeping your own body language positive and relaxed will go a long way towards helping your dog feel calm and relaxed. So, chin up, drop your shoulders, and smile. If you need to, then fake it until you make it. Making the conscious choice to adopt a positive approach will go a long way towards helping you both share a positive experience together.

CityPets - We're Back Adventuring! For those of you who are unable to get your dog back into regular walks, the CityPets team takes out groups of dogs for daily Wilderness Adventures. Dogs learn social skills, exercise, swim, run and have fun. Photos are posted daily to Facebook so you can see your dog’s adventures, and most importantly, you come home to a tired, sleepy, happy pup!


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