Covid-19 started a crazy time that began in early 2020. Businesses and schools closed as a result of the mandated lockdowns. Lockdowns were issued to slow the spread and keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. It was difficult for everyone to adjust to at a moment’s notice. Many people found themselves organizing their closets, doing projects in their homes, and LOTS of people decided it was the perfect time to get a puppy! Dog rescues and animal shelters experienced shortages of dogs. Hopeful dog owners thought puppy training would be easy enough since they were home and had more time on their hands. And while that was true, many failed to take into consideration the importance of dog socialization which has led to separation anxiety.
To complicate matters, owners were constantly around their puppies which wasn’t typical in our pre-covid lives. Thus, as things began opening back up and owners began leaving their dogs alone more often, separation anxiety in dogs spiked. As a result of all this, the phrase Pandemic Puppy was born.
What Is A Pandemic Puppy?
Pandemic Puppy is a phrase that describes the puppies who were adopted during Covid-19. Similar to describing humans as Millenials or Baby Boomers, Pandemic Puppies refer to the age group of dogs. Pandemic puppies age genre are the dogs born at the later end of 2019 and throughout 2020.
While humans were working from home and limiting their outside contact with the world, dogs were being adopted from rescues and shelters at record high numbers. Everyone wanted a puppy! And with so many people home with time on their hands, it seemed to make sense for the surge in dog adoptions. After all, puppy training could be done easily and the dogs would have constant supervision from their family members. Adopting a dog during covid-19 sounded like the perfect plan. But was it?
When dog owners adopt a puppy, they know that they will have to train them to some degree. Some owners will put in a lot of time and effort to make sure their puppy is trained well. Others will likely hire a dog trainer to help with the puppy training. And then there are some owners who will defer the puppy training and just love their dog and (pretty much) hope for the best! Therefore, puppy training can mean many different things to different people.
Potty Training A Puppy
Training a puppy consists of potty training a dog to go to the bathroom outside on a consistent basis. Everyone knows how frustrating it is when you bring your puppy outside to do their business and wait and wait…and wait. Then you finally go inside because nothing is happening. And within 5 minutes of going inside, your puppy pees or poops (or does both!) on your finest rug. We’ve all been there. It’s difficult potty training a puppy. However, consistency is key. If you keep bringing your puppy outside regularly and praise them for going outside, eventually, your dog will be potty trained. What feels like forever, really only takes a month or two. And potty training a puppy makes your life much easier down the road.
More Training For Puppies
Although potty training is a big part of training a puppy, it isn’t the only form of training that a puppy needs. They also need basic obedience training, how to walk well on a leash, crate training, training on recall, etc etc etc. The more behaved you want your dog to be, the more training you will need to do in the beginning. And you will likely need to keep up with the training over the years so that your dog stays well trained. Again, consistency is key. The more consistent you are when training your puppy, the faster they will learn what is expected of them.
Separation Anxiety in dogs is a very real thing. There are varying degrees of separation anxiety in dogs which can lead to major problems, if it isn’t addressed quickly. Separation anxiety is when a dog exhibits stress whenever they are left alone. It could be that their owner leaves the house for an hour or it could be that they leave the room for under a minute. A dog with separation anxiety will not be able to handle themselves without their person being in the same room at all times. It is very stressful for them and can make owners very stressed as well.
Separation Anxiety can manifest if your dog is around you too much. Yes, it’s true! Allowing your dog to be around you all the time can actually be a bad thing. Who knew, right? You would think that having your dog spend time with their owner would be a great thing. And it can be. However, dogs need their space. Humans need their space. Allowing your dog to have time to themselves gives them confidence that they will be okay being alone at times. If you “train” your dog to have some alone time, it will make a world of difference down the line, trust me.
Signs of separation anxiety in dogs can include:
- Pacing or Whining as soon as their person leaves
- Barking begins and is excessive and can be nonstop for hours at a time
- Accidents (pee, poop, throw up) in the house due to high levels of stress
- Excessive Panting and/or Drooling
- Destruction as a way to escape confinement to find their person
Throughout the lockdowns of covid-19, many owners couldn’t give their puppies the alone time that they needed. Either that or they didn’t realize that too much time together could lead to bad habits. Unfortunately, because these puppies did not get enough alone time and did not socialize outside of their homes much, the pandemic puppy problems began. The biggest problem was separation anxiety. Once their owners began leaving the house for longer stretches of time, the pandemic puppies exhibited stress that posed challenges to themselves and their owners. Additionally, with people returning to work outside of their homes, the pandemic puppy issues are a struggle that will take time to overcome. However, these pandemic puppies can be re-trained to minimize or even eliminate their separation anxiety.
The Importance Of Dog Socialization
Dog Socialization is an important part of training a puppy. Most people think dog socialization is introducing their puppy to other dogs. And while this is technically correct, dog socialization goes beyond dogs having doggie friends. Dog socialization also consists of introducing your pup to the outside world, in general. For instance, dogs need to be exposed to noises – think cars, loud trucks, buses, and landscaper equipment. Dog socialization also includes introducing dogs to new people, including children. Moreover, dog socialization involves putting your dog in different situations such as going for rides in a car, walking along busy streets, encountering bicyclists, going to vet appointments, going to doggie retail stores, etc.
All of these “normal” things to us can seem intimidating to puppies. However, the more you expose your dog to these situations, the more desensitized they will be to them and with other similar instances. Thus, you will set the foundation for a well-rounded dog who will be excited for new adventures versus fearing them.
How To Socialize Your Puppy With Dogs During A Pandemic
Socializing your puppy can be challenging. Socializing your puppy during a global pandemic can seem impossible. However, it is not impossible at all. Of course, this is all dependent on your comfort level and anxiety about the covid-19. That being said, there are still ways you can socially distance yourself from others while providing your puppy with socialization.
Dogs bring us a lot of joy. And pandemic puppies certainly provided much needed companionship and a distraction to what was happening in our daily lives. Another bonus of having a dog during a pandemic is walking your dog outside in nature. Your dog gives you a reason to get out of the house and relieve stress – take the opportunity to get out of the house! After all, it is easy to socially distance yourself from others on walks. And, it’s nice to see people (even from a distance) while you are out and about to know that you are not alone in this crazy world.
Easy ways to provide pandemic puppy socialization
Go For Walks
Ideally, when you take your dog for a walk, you would be able to introduce your dog to another dog or two along your walk. (Of course, you should always use caution when introducing an unknown dog to your dog, but let’s assume both dogs are goofballs and happy-go-lucky.) The encounters don’t have to be long. In fact, they can last up to a minute and can be done from a distance (most leashes are a minimum of 4 feet and there would be 2 dogs, equaling 8 feet of distance between masked owners who are outside!). A quick hello can make your dog happy and social! And if you do this on a regular basis, it keeps your puppy socialized.
Meet With Friends’ Dogs Outside
Perhaps you can meet up with a friend or two who have dogs of their own. You could all meet outside in someone’s yard so that the dogs can interact and play. Keeping the meet ups on the shorter side so that the dog socialization can happen, but the humans can remain safe is a win-win!
Hire A Dog Walker
If you don’t have the time to walk your dog during the day or the ability to meet up with friends and their dogs, consider hiring a dog walker. A professional dog walking company will be able to take your dog for a walk with other goofball, happy-go-lucky dogs. Your dog would not only get a relief break and exercise, they would also get that dog socialization that they need and love! Muddy Paws specializes in this dog socialization. Sign up with Muddy Paws!
Adjusting To The New Normal
A change in routine can make people uneasy and sometimes stressed. A change in routine for a dog can pose the same challenges. It’s best to make the changes as *positive* as possible (think positive reinforcement techniques). And it is usually best to implement changes without focusing too much attention on it.
For example, if you have been working home for the past 12 months and now need to return to your office, your dog may experience some form of separation anxiety. After all, you haven’t left the house as long as they have been with you! Don’t worry, your dog will be okay, and you will be okay. Keep that in mind and don’t feel guilty about going to work. Further, don’t worry about how they will be without you. If you trust that your dog will be okay, they will have a head start in actually being okay.
Implement Your New Routine
You’re ready to leave the house for the first time. Well, not really for the first time, but the first time for a regular, pre-covid work day. I’m sure your anxiety is high in general. You haven’t seen your colleagues in person in so long! But you know, you will be fine. It’s like the first day of school. Lots of excitement, anxiety, and nerves, but it always turns out to be a great day. This will be true for your dog as well. Your puppy will be nervous and anxious at first, but they will be fine as long as you prepare for the big day ahead of time. Try to ease them into a new routine so that their separation anxiety doesn’t get the better of them.
Crate Your Dog
If you crate trained your puppy as part of their general puppy training, you are ahead of the game! Meaning, if your dog is used to being crated at times, they will be happier and more at ease being in their crate, when you leave for your big day in the office.
If you haven’t crate trained your puppy when they were younger, things will be more difficult. However, there is still time. No dog is “too old” to be trained. Therefore, no dog is “too old” to be crated trained. Check out my blog, “How To Properly Crate Train A Dog”. Remember, consistency is key. You can do this and your dog will be okay!
Hire A Dog Walker
Another way to make your dog’s day much more enjoyable when you are not there is to hire a professional dog walker. A dog walker will come to your home to take your dog out for a relief break, exercise, and to socialize your dog with other dogs. Hiring a dog walker will allow your dog to release their energy and get to play with friends. They will return home happy and tired! And a tired dog makes for a happy owner. Their separation anxiety will be a thing of the past. And they will relax for the rest of the afternoon and they won’t destroy your furniture as a result of separation anxiety. Muddy Paws specializes in this type of dog socialization. Sign up with Muddy Paws to make separation anxiety a thing of the past!
Muddy Paws Training Advice
Every dog is different. However, most dogs are similar. Training your pandemic puppy will be an ongoing process. It will take a lot of time and effort. And it will be worth it!
Some easy tips to train your puppy can be found in the following training articles. Check them out and start implementing them. You got this!
You can find the dog training articles here:
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