So there is good news in 2020. Yes, really!
The great news is that dogs and cats are finding homes like never before! Everyone wants company, and humans are home so much that the new dogs are rarely alone. Depending where you live, it can even be very hard to find a furball to adopt this year! Fantastic! And your dogs and cats love love love that you are home so much.
If you have a “reactive” dog who barks when he sees other dogs or has feelings about human “stranger danger,” the pandemic is actually his friend. People are staying away from one another, and their dogs usually stay away with them. When we’re trying to help fearful dogs, normally it can be difficult to get people to stay away. (“Dogs all love me” and a pat on the head do not make a wary dog happy.) People with reactive dogs usually march around their neighborhoods at the crack of dawn so there are less dogs around. Now no one comes near you–hopefully. You’re able to work on your dog’s behavior without pushing thresholds too quickly. In normal circumstances it can be hard to let the dog breathe a little between episodes of excitement, and now there is often less to make him nervous.
You might have less noise in your neighborhood now: less traffic to scare a new rescue dog, less noisy trucks. You hopefully have less visitors to your home, too, which can be stressful for dogs with issues about territory or new people. Your dog may not even know what your doorbell sounds like!
It’s a great time to work with your dog. You may be spending more time together, so a little obedience work will go a long way. And working on issues can be simpler than they were before the pandemic.
Of course there is a flip side. (Isn’t there always a flip side?) You have to work much harder outside your home to get your new puppy socialized and around enough people and dogs and environments. To lessen a dog’s reactivity, you have to actually see other dogs. That dog class in the park you were going to take isn’t happening now. Kids aren’t in playgrounds so your puppy can get used to the silly sounds they make and the different ways they move from bigger humans.
Most important, your dog doesn’t get a break from you. Go! Leave your house. Get Bella used to being on her own. It’s not helping her to bring her absolutely everywhere you go or to stay home with her all the time. She needs to stand on her own four paws. Start slowly (and get her tired beforehand), but do find a reason to leave your home. Trainers are afraid that too many of our post-pandemic clients will be about separation anxiety–which can be a harmful state for a dog. Also, some animals in multiple-pet households might even be getting grumpy around one another lately; have you noticed? We all need breaks!
We’re all doing the best we can in these strange times. Your dogs and cats are really loving this time with you. And that’s the best thing I can find in the pandemic. Give them a cuddle from me, stay safe, and thank you for taking in that warm furry body!
Tam K on December 27, 2020 AT 09 am
Awesome. Love this. Great info. I will give Max a break
robin on December 28, 2020 AT 10 am
He asked me to tell you he’d just like an extra cuddle, thanks.