Let’s face it: the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly altered the definition of “normal” for people all across the globe. Along with adjustments to our professional, educational, and social lives, we also fell into some bad habits – like putting the “Freshman Fifteen” to shame with our stress-eating and lack of exercise. But, when everything is said and done, there is something positive that came from shelter-in-place and social distancing protocols – adoption rates soared! Paw yeah!
Being confined indoors opened the gateway for dog-loving humans to make time for training and integrating a new pup into their pack. And, speaking from personal experience, the comfort and companionship of a fur friend is beyond appreciated during a time filled with so much fear and uncertainty. The difficult part? Finding the right resources and sifting through the sea of information surrounding things like housebreaking, training, finding the right veterinarian, etc. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to begin with the right foundation, so you can ultimately find your rhythm and enjoy a lifetime of rebarkable moments with your pooch.
Socializing Your Pup is a Priority
Walks | Nothing better than a good walk! Not only are walks a great way to give your pup their much needed exercise, it is also a great way to socialize your puppy. Along your walks you’ll likely encounter all sorts of smells, sounds, people, and maybe even other dogs. Obviously in current times it’s best to remain 6 feet from other people, so you may have to get creative and find a trail to go walk on.
Doggie Meetups | If you or your pup can’t get outside, talk to friends or family you trust and have them bring over their dog for a play date. All it takes is one “fur”-iend for your pup to have a great time and burn off some energy. Make sure to not force them into any interactions and read their body language so everyone has a fun time. Check out our very own Mary Puppins tips on introducing your dog to a new furry friend.
Open the Blinds | Believe it or not, your pup can be socialized without ever leaving the house! All it takes is one or two windows that let your dog see what’s going on outside. Check-in every once in a while and if you and your dog see other dogs walking by or children playing, give your dog a treat or two so they can start building a positive association with seeing another dog or person.
By creating a safe space for socializing each day, you’ll reap the heart-melting rewards of raising an emotionally healthy pup who is ready to share a lifetime of memories with their favorite human.
Become an Expert in Bark-eology
Ok, so, unfortunately, this isn’t an actual course you can sign up for online. However, a large facet of building and nurturing your relationship with your pup is finding a shared language. No, I’m not suggesting you analyze your pup’s every move and lose sleep over trying to decipher if her head angled to the right means something different from angling it to the left. However, there are some personality traits you can start digging into – such as, how to engage him or her during playtime, or determining what motivates them (i.e. treats?).
On the flip side, your su-paw-star pup will begin to understand certain words, as well as your tone of voice – so always strive to speak thoughtfully and with intention. There are ultimately three messages you want to communicate effectively during training – praise, neutrality, and discontent. For the initial few months with your ulti-mutt bestie, you’ll rarely need to express displeasure – it’s something that should be introduced gradually down the road when your pooch can fully digest and understand the “rules.”
Shelve the Obedience Training for Later
Gasspp! Isn’t “sit,” “come,” and “stay” the holy grail of commands your tail-wagger should learn? Yes, of course, they’re important – just not at this point in time. Why? You need to first focus your efforts on laying down the proper foundation for your pup to thrive, which includes time-sensitive training like housebreaking and socializing.
A puppy will certainly require lots of patience, and their brain won’t fully begin absorbing obedience commands until about their six-month anni-fur-sary. Until then, you can expect the following: zoomies, zoomies, and more zoomies. Oh, look, something to chew on.
Think Holistically by Making Meaningful Connections
Raising a pup is no easy feat. By adopting a holistic perspective – i.e. forming connections between your furry friend’s behaviors, actions, and activities – it’ll ensure your pooch develops successful lifelong habits. Let’s use chewing as an example. Isn’t it so adorable when your little one gently mouths your fingers? It’s cuteness overload. You puggin love it.
Oh, except when it mutates into chewing on a stranger’s hand, or all that nice furniture in your home (and your pup is now a fully-grown dog). Unless you have #LawsuitGoals, you’ll want to take a different approach. Since chewing is a natural behavior that aids in stimulating the brain and maintaining healthy teeth, you need to create a space for your pooch to exercise this behavior. Chew toys that can’t easily be destroyed, dog puzzles, and a good amount of exercise are all ways your pup can benefit from this behavior in an appropriate way.
Covid certainly disrupted life in a number of ways over the past year, but (wo)man’s best friend has provided many with the joy, affection, and comfort needed to overcome even the hardest days.
Did you adopt a pup during COVID? Tell us your story in the comments below.