Written by: Kassie Dickson, CPDT-KA, K9 Koach
Did you decide to get a new pup over the course of the pandemic? You’re not alone! What do we need to set up our pandemic puppies for success? What’s the difference between a pandemic puppy and any other puppy? Let us walk you through it and make sure you and your new pup live a long and happy life.
How can I leave my puppy alone after the pandemic?
The same as you will with any other pup, start small and work your pup up through some independence training, making sure they’re content and comfortable with being alone. Give them breaks to rest by themselves during the day and practice.
Depending on how old your pup is, you may need some help along the way. Don’t hesitate to find an appropriately trained dog walker or sitter that can let your pup out mid-day, or that provides daycare to a few other pups. If you feel your dog is suffering from any anxiety or distress when they’re left alone, contact a certified trainer to help you through these issues. Despite popular belief, it’s better to not leave your dog to cry it out, they should be content throughout being left alone. So work through these types of issues with care.
Can dogs develop separation anxiety after COVID-19?
Although this is possible, it’s truly not probable. However, as mentioned above, you can do things now to set your pup up for this new normal. Remember, Separation Anxiety is a mental disorder, not just a behaviour your dog displays. So if and when you start going back to normal life and feel your pup is having difficulties, seek out a trainer who specializes in separation anxiety, preferably one that’s certified through CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer).
Do I have to socialize my dog again, with other dogs and humans?
Socialization is a lifelong process, so the short answer is yes!
You should constantly be socializing your pup, however, the way you choose to do so is up to you! There are many ways to socialize your dog and they don’t all mean having your dog interact directly with other dogs, people, or things. You can use the environment to your advantage and teach your dog from a distance that those things (that other dog, or a child running and playing) are okay!
You can teach this by simply rewarding your dog for engaging with (looking at) it!
For example, if I’m standing outside a store waiting with my dog and a person approaches and my dog looks at that person, I’m going to give them a treat. If they ignore that person, treat! If they bark or jump up, I'm going to gain some distance and when they offer another behaviour, then treat!
Can dogs get COVID-19? Can dogs get COVID symptoms?
There’s very limited information on animals and COVID-19. Studies are being conducted and there is some proof that both wild, farmed, and companion animals can contract, and in some cases, pass on the infection. Through the small number of dogs that had been infected, most cases were mild with symptoms such as sluggishness and loss of appetite. It is currently believed that pets do not play a large role in the spread of COVID-19 however, it’s still a good idea to take precautions wherever possible.
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Precautions for dogs in COVID-19:
When it comes to pets and COVID-19, it’s suggested to follow the steps we have all become familiar with. If you suspect you have been infected, distance yourself from your pet. If you think your dog may have COVID-19 (in most cases, contracted from a human), then do keep your dog in a separate room if possible and contact your veterinarian. In either case, do wear gloves and a face mask when handling your dog and any of their items however, do not put a face covering on your dog or use any disinfectant chemicals on them as this could be harmful. To practice social distancing outside of the house, try and avoid walks that could put you and your dog in contact with others.
Fun activities for dogs at home:
Whether your location continues to be under lockdown or you’re coming back from being out in the world, here are a few fun things to do with your dog at home:
- Practice some dog tricks! Perhaps you’ve mastered the basic tricks and commands with your pup, some more advanced ones you can try out are “Find and Treat”. Similar to hide and seek except here, you would hide treats in safe places in the house and have your dog find them, practice with the saying “Find the treat!”.
- Work on teaching “target touch” or practicing specific tricks like “bow”; you can place a treat between your pup's paws and slide it towards your pup’s bum, as they drop their head and begin to stretch, mark and reward! Slowly wait for more and more criteria! There are tons of tricks you can use at home with your pup to keep them busy and tired!
Separation type anxiety in dogs and what you should know
There is absolutely no correlation between Separation Anxiety and loving your dog! Things like cuddling your dog and allowing them to sleep on the bed, are not going to heighten the chances your dog will develop separation anxiety. In fact, according to Separation Anxiety expert, Malena Demartini, if these are normal behaviours your dog has, they do not increase the chances that Separation Anxiety will occur and that a healthy bond creates more comfort and in turn, less distress.
Separation Anxiety is a disorder, if your pup is having what’s akin to panic attacks, even though it may feel like your pup is acting out, they are truly suffering. So above all be kind and help your pup in whatever ways you can, just remember that there is hope for pups with this issue!