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In a year like no other, dog owners must embrace the different challenges of keeping their dogs happy and healthy through training. This has been the most unusual time in our lives with the Covid 19 pandemic disrupting not only our lives but our dogs lives as well.
Good intentions coupled with bad judgement have led to many new adoptions since the pandemic started in March 2020. I enjoy hearing that a dog has found a solid home and will be able to enjoy a happy family life. Because of Covid 19 there has been an uptick of new dog adoptions by families stuck at home with plenty of time on their hands. The problem is that every dog coming into a new home will need some level of attention and training. If it’s a young puppy, the needs are now amplified by 1000 and without proper guidance this can become a not so happy ending.
Welcoming a dog into your home should mean he will be there for the remainder of his life through good rough times. Before making a quick choice to bring a dog into your home below are some thoughts that may help you decide.
Have A Plan
If you have a work at home job it will help ease some of the new dog issues like crate or house training. The plan needs to include plenty of time for exercise outside every day. For medium sized or large breed dogs this is very important or your new family member may come up with his/her own form of fun inside your home! Take into account that when bringing a dog into a new environment that dog will need an extended time to adjust. This can be a scary process for pets and they need to be able to feel welcome and safe as they walk through your door for the first time. If you have children it would be a good idea for them to take their greeting slowly and keep the long hugs to a minimum at first. Allowing the new dog to approach is a better option when children are involved. Even if you know a complete history of the dog, you should observe their time together for a couple weeks. Better safe than sorry.
I would like to believe that a good training plan has been thought out prior to bringing a new dog into your home. The problem with training during this pandemic is indoor dog training businesses have either closed or limited their class schedule for the safety of everyone. Private, one on one lessons are always an option but they are pricier than the group option. For a group lesson you may pay between $120-$180 for a six week course whereas a private lesson will run anywhere from $40-$90 for one hour.
If you bring a young puppy into your home during this time you will absolutely need to socialize this new family member with other puppies. If there are limited puppy classes and you are unable to find time to interact with other puppies this can cause some issues as the puppy gets older. When your dog is between 8-16 weeks old, the things they experience during this time will stick with them for life! During this time they make strong associations between things happening around them. So a good or bad or very scary event can stick with their memories so starting to gradually expose them to everything once they are in your home is important. Life with a puppy means getting up early and often for bathroom training and exercise through all types of weather. If you need 8 straight hours of sleep each night I have some bad news for you! Putting in the foundation training early on will set up your dog for success and help become a great home companion.
Structure and Scheduling
Dogs need your attention and a routine to feel comfortable. Schedule playtime, walks, meals and training and stick to it. Just because you have more free time because you are home 24/7 does not mean this will be the best plan for your dog to live by. Surprise your dog by putting in the car and taking a short ride to nowhere. In my area I can take my dog along when i’m inside a bank or to a local hardware store like Home Depot. This is another great way for them to be exposed to other people from a distance and add a new experience to their week.
Behavior issues are going to happen and require your family to adapt to a more hectic daily life. Being home and bored because of the Covid-19 pandemic is not a reason to bring a new dog and huge responsibility into your life. The entire family should sit down and begin writing down the challenges that this choice will make to their life as well as the dog’s life. If you do not see this new family member as long term through the good times and not so good times then I would hold off until everyone can commit. I cringe when hearing stories about dogs being returned to a shelter because the new owners had no time any longer or felt the dog had bad manners. Dogs cannot train themselves and they do not figure things out on their own. What they do need is your time and attention while being guided through positive reinforcement training