How to survive the transition back to the ‘real world’ with a quarantine puppy
By Karina Zapata, Publishing Editor
When COVID-19 spread globally and countries across the world shut down, there was one thought that went through many people’s minds: this is the perfect time to adopt a puppy.
After stay at home orders and endless offices sending their employees to work from home, suddenly many people across the globe had time to train a puppy. I’m one of those people — I fulfilled my dream of getting a miniature dachshund, only a month into the pandemic.
But, now that provinces across Canada are relaunching their economies, many people are starting the transition back to the ‘real world’ — a world that involves returning back to work and not spending every second with their dogs.
If you’re like me and you’re a first-time puppy owner through this pandemic, you’re probably worried about what you should be doing to support your dog. These are some things I’ve learned through my extensive, anxiety-induced research about how to survive this transition.
Have a support system in place
This is an extremely important tip because, as they say, it takes a village. After raising a puppy, I realized this doesn’t only go for human babies — it also goes for dog babies. The truth is that puppies love routine, and breaking them can create stress and anxiety. This might be hard work for both you and your puppy, so it’s important to make sure you have people to support you during this time. This involves having puppy sitters when you’re overwhelmed and being able to turn to other dog owners to tell you that you actually aren’t doing a terrible job (because I promise you, you aren’t!).
Start implementing a routine similar to your pre-COVID one
Because breaking routine can cause stress and anxiety in your fur baby, starting to implement a routine similar to your regular one will make things easier for them. This means gradually giving them a similar amount of time alone that they’re going to have when you’re back at work. Depending on how much time your puppy is currently used to having, you might have to start with short amounts of time — as little as a couple minutes. You can practice leaving the house while they’re in their crate, if you crate your puppy. If you do, make sure to use lots of treats to correlate their crate with positive things, and take them on long walks before you leave to decrease their energy.
Buy all the necessary supplies
There are some things you can buy to make this experience a little easier for you. There are many anti-anxiety toys out there, such Kongs and snuffle mats, which can turn stressful experiences into positive ones and alleviate anxiety peaks. A crate, if used correctly, can be extremely comforting for dogs — like being in bed when you’re having a hard day. A camera that allows you to check in on your dog can also make things easier for you. Some cameras even come with treat dispensers that you can control through your phone, if you’re feeling it.
Attend puppy training classes
Puppy training classes, although expensive, have been so helpful during this pandemic. Puppy classes encourage good manners for your puppy, and they also make sure that your fur baby is receiving proper socialization, which truly determines their future behaviour and reactivity. Your dog will learn how to pay attention to you, stay calm around you and when you’re gone, be respectful while walking and more. Additionally, experts such as those from American Kennel Club, say that mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. For them, learning is just as tiring as going for a long walk, which is a win-win!
Look into doggy daycare
Doggy daycare is also on the more expensive side, but if you have a puppy that really struggles with separation anxiety, this could be worth the investment. Bringing your puppy to doggy daycare will ensure that they aren’t alone all day, they’re getting tons of socialization and they’re well-exercised. Plus, lots of daycares include training as part of the daily routine, which can be beneficial.
Don’t forget — if your dog has severe separation anxiety, it’s encouraged to talk to a veterinarian for advice on how to overcome the issues.