It’s Springtime! And while COVID has made things difficult, we can still find joy!
For one thing, dogs are benefiting big time!
Yes, people and their dogs get plenty of wonderful time together while staying at home, but what about the people who are social distancing alone, without family or pets? This weird isolation and quarantine business can be lonely, and can amplify what feels like holes in the human circuit-board. In response to this, many people have realized what their lives have been missing–the unique connection that humans and dogs share!
Spring is the time when people bring new life into their homes, and many people welcome puppies and dogs into their lives! More pups and dogs have become loved and adored furry family members, both with the help of responsible, loving breeders (*please do NOT support puppy mills) and the tireless efforts of rescues and shelters.
We are overjoyed to report that during quarantine, many people have opened their hearts and homes for a LOT of love, and so it is that animal shelters and rescues around the world have seen a major uptick in adoption, in fact, some shelters are completely empty!
We’re HUGE rescue fans, so what a beautiful bit of news to report!
In honour of this delightful news, we wanted to provide some tips to help you welcome your newest family member home.
First off, CONGRATULATIONS! Whether you are this pup’s wonderful forever home or their loving and selfless foster parent, we are SO happy for you and your pup!
What To Consider In Advance
Now that you’ve decided to welcome a new life into yours, take your time, and think about your lifestyle. What sort of time and energy do you have to dedicate? What do you want in a canine companion? Do your research. Think about the type of dog who would best match you. Things to consider:
- age of dog
- energy level
- maintenance level
- pre-existing health issues
Research Different Vets
Just like people, your pup will need check-ups and booster shots throughout their life, and it’s important to find a vet you trust, and with whom you can form a partnership in keeping your dog healthy and happy. It’s a great idea to have a vet picked out in advance. Ask your friends and fellow pet families which veterinarians they use, and what they like about them. You’ll want a vet who can think outside of the lines when it comes to problem solving, ask for their opinions on such issues as the correlation between quality of diet and health, and ask whether they offer alternative therapies for different issues–such alternative treatments as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and physical therapy have been amazing for many issues.
Get Your Essentials Beforehand
While wonderful and beautiful, bringing a new life into your family can be a little scary! You want to do everything right, and give this new family member the best experience possible–that puts a lot of pressure on you! Take a deep breath, and consider what you should have ready in advance. Stocking up on essentials beforehand can help relieve your nerves. Gear to have ready:
- Bed and properly sized crate (even if you don’t plan on using the crate all of the time, it’s helpful to allow your furry friend feel safe in knowing that they have their own space.)
- Collar tag with their name and your info
- Leash (always good to have two)
- Durable, enriching toys
- Puppy pads (if pup is untrained)
- Food they had been eating before (you can transfer to another food as they settle in to life with you)
- New food if you would like to change their diet (Grocery Pup is a balanced, healthy and heckin’ tasty option for full meals or toppers!)
It’s important to consider your pup’s emotional reactivity.
Bringing home a puppy. Most puppies are very physical and as they will have come from a very busy life with their litter-mates, will benefit from close contact and being held.
Bringing home an older dog. Consider that this will be a big change for them, and change, while often good, can be scary. Remember to speak in calm, assuring tones, and ask their foster family or rescue worker what sort of contact the dog is comfortable with. As you get to know your dog, and they get to know you, you will get to know their comfort levels, and work on closer contact. If a dog hasn’t been hugged and held tight since puppyhood, they may not be used to such close contact, and it could add stress. Learn to read your dog’s stress levels (P.S. they will always read yours for cues on how they should act) and slowly work on contact from there.
For in-depth info on dog body language, visit the ever-helpful Whole Dog Journal!
Training Routines (Even In Quarantine!)
All Dogs, just like people, do well with some semblance of a routine, or expectations of ways to act in certain situations. Training your pup to react well in a variety of situations is ideal! No matter the age of your dog, it’s a great idea to connect with a trainer, even if only to cover the basics to help you and your pup gain confidence together.
Of course, the current COVID situation may make connecting with a trainer pretty tricky, but luckily, there are plenty of certified, experience trainers and programs to follow with just a click of a button! Do your research and try some different, positive re-enforcement approaches to training, then stick with the one that works best. Committing to a certain blocks of training time is a great way to connect with your dog, and keep you both busy during COVID Stay-At-Home. Socialization is extremely important for dogs of all ages, so remember to socialize your dog as safely and as well as you can during quarantine. While people can’t be within six-feet of one another right now, dogs can visit still with others! So when you’re comfortable, follow training guidelines and common sense for letting your dog meet and greet others.
For helpful videos on successful socializing, and more, visit our friends Austin Pets Alive! They rock!
Speaking of socialization, getting your pup used to some healthy alone time is important, too. When Stay-At-Home orders are lifted, and it is safe for people to interact normally again, you probably won’t be able to bring your dog with you everywhere (even though you’ll want to!) It’s healthy for everyone to have some alone time, and goodness knows a pup needs to rest after lots of play, so even while in quarantine, attempt to regulate some time when your pup can adjust to being alone. This will be a great step towards lessening separation anxiety behaviours, and towards building confidence in your dog.
Start creating small periods of time where they are alone with an activity, like a safe, food-stuffed puzzle toy. Leave them alone for small increments (10 minutes to start). You don’t have to leave the house to accomplish this, just watch a quick tv-show, or answer some e-mails in the next room. If your pup does well with this, slowly build it up to more time. This will help boost their confidence, and you’ll be rewarded with the happiest of tail wags when you return!
Maintaining routines together will be a healthy and great way to encourage and strengthen your bond, but sometimes the regular routine for going out to do their business can change. Considering their needs, train your dog to tell you when they need to go out. Heard of Bell Training? It’s genius, and super easy to teach. not to mention a fun craft to make your pup a doorbell. Here’s a quick run-down on a genius way to teach your dog how to ring to go out.
*Please note that we believe in responsible, loving breeders, and do NOT support puppy mills.**