Pets and the Pandemic: Adjusting All Over Again
As the country’s restrictions continue to lift and new routines take shape again, it’s good to remember those that helped keep you healthy and mentally sound during the past year. According to pet owners, their dogs were their lifeline during quarantine, uncertainty, and times of stress.
Pet ownership has many benefits that will continue into a post-pandemic life. These include:
- Decreasing stress
- Increasing activity for a healthy lifestyle
- Helps alleviate some symptoms of depression
- Provides routine
- Check out details on these benefits in our “How Pets Help Reduce Stress” blog.
While pet owners have been grateful to have their pets by their side during the pandemic, it wasn’t always an easy adjustment to the new schedule and routine. Now that things are opening up and shifting back closer to a pre-pandemic norm, many pet owners are struggling to help their pets re-adjust to yet another routine and a ripple of concern over pet returns to shelters spread. Thankfully, according to the latest data collected by the ASPCA, 87% of pet owners are not considering relinquishing their pet, despite some concerns they may have.
Many concerns involve a pet’s health and behavior, which are two of the top reasons a pet may be relinquished to a shelter. It’s important for pet owners to prepare for health and behavior changes that can occur throughout a pet’s life.
Training is a key aspect when addressing problem behavior that can cause challenges in pet ownership and deteriorate the human-dog relationship. A good thing to remember is: just because your pet acts one way now, doesn’t mean that, with some work, your pet can’t adapt and change, just like you do. Training isn’t just about solving problem behavior, but is also about creating boundaries, improving the human-pet relationship, and supporting a pet’s ability to adapt, cope, and thrive in new environments. Check out training tips in some of our previous blogs!
- Tips for Fun, at-home Training Sessions
- Ways to Train and Play with Your Dog
- Training Tips for Emotional Health
If you’re struggling to cope with your pet’s behavior, please reach out to a professional dog trainer or behavior consultant that promotes safe, humane, and ethical training. For local Camp Bow Wow® dog trainer information and services, visit https://www.campbowwow.com/locations/
Socialization generally refers to the process of introducing dogs to different people, objects, sounds, places, textures, and animals in a safe, controlled, and non-threatening manner in order to help them learn how to respond, adapt, and cope when faced with new situations. While a dog’s primary socialization period is approximately between 6 and 14 weeks (when it’s best to be working on these introductions as they are very moldable at this age), it’s also important to keep up the process throughout their lives.
Unfortunately, the pandemic kept us close to home and minimized interaction of dogs with other people, places, and other dogs, which has left many dogs (and owners!) nervous about social interaction. It has also caused some to now be fearful in situations that they may have been happy in before.
As you and your pet re-enter the world, take small steps towards introducing your dog to their old routine: remember, it’s new to them all over again!
- First, be patient with your pet. Understand that change brings about stress, and they may respond with behavior you don’t love.
- Set your pet up for success by ensuring their needs are met. Check out our blog on separation stress, codependency and tips to prevent it for additional information.
- If returning to day care or boarding like Camp Bow Wow for the first time post-pandemic, consider a few, short days to help reacquaint them.
- Don’t plan a vacation and drop off your pet assuming they’ll adapt right away.
- Make sure to give your pet time to adjust back to the routine of day care and boarding before you head out of town.
- If you utilize a pet-sitter, consider asking for a visit while you are home to ensure your pet is still comfortable with your sitter and address any changes that may have occurred since you last used the service.
Other tips for helping pets adjust to new routines can be found here:
- Adjusting to the new normal
- How to Avoid Codependency for Healthy, Happy Relationships with your Dog
- Easing the Effects of Codependency
If you or someone you know is considering surrendering their dog, remember there are lots of options and things that pet parents can do to avoid having to surrender a dog. A dog is a lot of responsibility and takes time and effort, but the reward of their unconditional love is more than worth it!