It seems like just over 100 days ago you could walk down the street, make a quick detour into a store, or maybe even grab an adult beverage at your favorite watering hole. Man oh man, have things changed! But the one amazing thing to come out of this pandemic is that you got yourself a “pandemic pup” (ok, maybe you got an adult dog but “pandemic pup” sounds better). You didn’t mean to, it just happened. You’ve been wanting a dog forever but put it off because of work or travel and guess what? You had 100 days without either! You knew that there would never be a better time to get a pup than during a pandemic. But now what? It’s time to begin to think about venturing out of your house, maybe back to work, and who knows, even a quick getaway trip. Here are a few things to think about for your pandemic pup.
1. Training, Training, and More Training
Being an urban dog is hard! There is so much sensory stimulation all the time! Sites, sounds, smells, tastes (they say all the “stuff” on the sidewalk is tasty). Add on dog parks, veterinary visits, grooming appointments… there is just so much for a dog to do! It is really hard to be a good dog with all this going on and with all these expectations.
Training a dog early and often is the key to long term success as a San Francisco dog and San Francisco pet parent. If you adopted an older dog, fear not – our local MythBusters busted the myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks back in 2007 with Bobo and Cece (who were at Pet Camp during filming).
Just like us, your dog never stops learning, and if you stop working with your dog, that training will disappear.
2. Socialization to Dogs
Your dog can live a long and happy life not wanting to play with other dogs, but your life will be easier if your dog is at least “ok” with other dogs. What’s the best way for your dog to be comfortable around other dogs? You guessed it – expose your dog to other dogs. Now this does NOT mean take your puppy or new dog to the dog park and see what happens. This means structured and tailored introductions to dogs that will make your dog comfortable and will help your dog decipher dog cues. Poor socialization is way worse than no socialization at all.
3. Socialization to People
We live in a city. One day there will be people back out and about and your pandemic pup is going to have to walk past them, maybe be touched by them, be relaxed while you have a conversation with someone less than 6 feet away. It is important that your dog be both relaxed and confident around people outside its immediate household for both of you to be able to enjoy what San Francisco might be offering once again. Walking down the street, stopping for a bite to eat, grabbing a cup of coffee is way more fun when your dog isn’t hiding between your legs or pulling you away from your friends at the table by the corner.
4. Separation Issues
This one can get touchy but it’s essential that you get both ahead of this AND that you don’t anthropomorphize too much. Your pandemic pup has spent the last 100 days at your side. While this might be the current not-normal, we all hope that this ends soon and we return to whatever we were before this (in San Francisco that still might not have been “normal” to everyone else). When that happens, you will not be spending every hour with your dog and the time to start dealing with that separation is before it becomes a problem. Start with small amounts of time and build up. If you’re really nervous, just go sit outside for 10 minutes and go back in, then 15 minutes and so on. Soon enough you’ll both be ready for some alone time.
But what about your rescue pandemic pup? Will your dog equate being away from you to being abandoned again? Will letting your dog go to doggie day care or overnight care trigger PTSD? Probably not. A quality pet care facility that has lots of activities designed to keep your dog engaged both mentally and physically may be just the thing a dog that has lacked the finer things in life might need and benefit from. Like anything new, your dog may need a day or two to adjust, get used to the flow of the day, and get used to new people – but these are all the things you want your new rescue pandemic pup to be exposed to.
Of course, this is not all you need to think about when it comes to your pandemic pup, but hopefully this gets you started on an amazing relationship with your new best friend.
Thanks for reading and congratulations on your new best friend!