On behalf of our canine friends we say thank you 2020 for all the dog adoptions. New puppies, big and small, found forever homes. Our municipal shelter is at an all time low with less than 100 dogs on it’s adoption floor. To put that in perspective for you, pre-covid there were 400 dogs at any given time awaiting adoption with kennels often times two dogs to a run. But when we all started spending all our time at home, what a perfect time to get a dog. Right? One of the biggest things we claimed to need more time for, we were now blessed with in endless amounts. This benefited the homeless animal population as well as breeders, yet here we are in 2021 and many of those dogs are actually suffering.
The added time to dedicate to your dog’s training has been, without a doubt, beneficial. However, if you and your new best friend are now used to staying home all the time, being social may now feel like a chore. For dogs, this can lead to being anxious or uncomfortable in foreign situations or even in the once normal fast-paced bustle of our beloved metropolis. Just because we now have the opportunity to be at home with our dogs more often, they still need to get out; see the world, gain confidence. A truly adjusted family dog needs the opportunity to experience time frames without our constant presence. Prior to March 2020 were never home all the time. In between what our regular work hours used to be, running errands at rush hour (cue sitting on the couch and Instacart instead), and the potential bussing of children to and from school, dogs got very used to our regular absence.Now the tables have turned. Dogs now believe the new normal is ‘mom and dad will always be around’. For new puppies especially, it means that they know no life without their people in it.
What happens when we are back on schedule? What happens when the masks come off?
Dogs everywhere now need emotional support for this traumatic, cold turkey event. Let’s face it most businesses didn’t really stop to create an adjustment period for their employees going back to work. This also meant that all the new puppies didn’t get eased into it either. These young dogs have actually received the endearing, albeit truthful, label from working professionals as “COVID puppies”. Characterized by their generalized fear of, well, everything outside of the home. They bark at people, dogs, are shy about being touched by strangers, and shut down in the face of otherwise “normal” day to day scenarios a dog pre-covid would have experienced. These dogs are a class of undersocialized teenage woofers with some separation and isolation issues. This is to no fault of their loving owners, but a somewhat historical stamp made on society and the behavioral development of our furry friends. To put it into perspective, A socialized puppy means that a puppy gets exposed toas many different types of people (at least 100), environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, animals and other dogs prior to 12 weeks of age, 16 weeks at the latest. Puppies who do not begin proper socialization prior to 16 weeks show an exponentially harder time coping with new experiences, trying new things, and handling frustration.
COVID puppies have now presented a separate challenge for professionals in the pet industry as a whole. Higher demand for dog walkers, day cares, and day school training programs to either rehabilitate or provide a worthy outlet. The observation of this phenomenon has caused us to acknowledge a completely new human/dog dynamic. The good news is, we gladly accept the challenge and are already seeing improvement the more and more these dogs can get into school, group classes and other training programs out of the house.
If you feel your dog is suffering some of the social side-effects of the CV-19 pandemic, please consult a professional. You don’t need to explain to us what’s happening, we already know! And, trust us, there’s no judgement. It is what it is, and we’re here to help.