Pandemic Pups - Part 1
If you are anything like the rest of the world, you were affected by the COVID lockdowns. Most people found ways to cope, and one of the more popular coping mechanisms was to have a companion through all of this; adopting a dog. In the best of times, adopting a dog can be a great responsibility. In these times, it can be even more challenging. As a result, all trainers like us are seeing an alarming spike in issues at home.
Most of what we are seeing is separation-related issues, (more on other issues in subsequent posts.) While pretty much everyone we have met has done everything they were capable of to support their newly adopted pups, the one thing almost everyone could not do effectively is familiarize their dogs with being alone. With lock-downs and social distancing, most of our pups did not get the kind of exposure to being alone as they normally would have. Not only have work-at-home and home-schooling kept us cooped up at home but it has kept our dogs with us so that they know of no other way of life. This is all they have had. Now that stores, schools, and businesses are opening up and bringing people back in, we are being asked to change everything. For us humans, it is seemingly “back to normal” however, there is nothing normal about being home alone for our pandemic pups, and they are letting us know, this is not acceptable.
The best thing you can do for your pup is to start the preparations early, long before you actually have to return to work. Practice in very, very short increments to test your dog's resilience to being alone. If you have one, use a camera to video your dog in your absence, even if it is for only 5 minutes. If you don’t have a camera, then get one. They are quite affordable. You probably already have one on your smartphone. If you get a video and are not sure what you are seeing, please call us. We will be happy to review the video with you, at no charge, to explain what the video shows. We truly hope it is a happy, comfortable pup taking a nap. Unfortunately, if experience tells us anything, that is likely not the case. If your dog does have separation anxiety, don’t fret, it is very treatable. We have been specializing in separation anxiety since we started training in 2007 and have lots of experience and success. In fact, Beth is right now working toward a formal certification in separation anxiety to punctuate our hundreds, if not thousands of hours of working with separation anxiety dogs.
While an in-depth discussion of separation anxiety could take up hours and pages, the best and simplest thing you can do now is plan. If you are going back to the office in the fall, start prepping your dog now. If you already know your dog has separation issues, start working on them now, and call us or an experienced trainer. Neither one of you need to live with this issue when it is very treatable. You both will be happier for it.