Since the beginning of the pandemic Canadians across the country have been searching for new ways to stay active, keep busy and maintain their mental health. For many, the best answer was adding a new puppy to the home. Proven to boost your mood and bound to keep you on your feet, a puppy makes an exciting and adorable family addition, but what happens when the pandemic passes, your office welcomes you back and your new BFFF (Best Furry Friend Forever) has to cope with some major changes to its environment? Will your puppy be prepared?
With quarantine in full effect across Canada dogs have been living their best lives with their pet parents and families constantly at home and endless belly rubs, snuggles and walks around the neighbourhood. But as the coronavirus shelter-at-home orders begin to end and you find yourself spending more time outside of your house, your dog may start to experience separation anxiety. Now is the time to start easing your puppy into this transition and help them realize what life is like when they are alone, so it doesn’t feel so abrupt or scary. The dog care experts at Dogtopia have put together a list of tactics and tips to make the transition easier for you and your pup.
Keep Them on Schedule
Struggling to maintain a routine? Do it for your doggie! Puppies thrive when in a routine, this sets their expectations making them feel safe. If you’ve been feeding your pup at random times during the day, start to feed them at the times you usually would before and after work. While working, put your dog in a crate or another room, separate from you and the rest of your family, for a couple of hours so they can get acclimated to not being with you all day. Take your daily walks at the time you would each morning or night. You can even try running through your typical morning routine: get ready, make breakfast, pack your work bag, leave the house and start your car. This is a great way for your puppy to get comfortable with your typical schedule.
Expose Them to the World
A well-balanced puppy needs safe socialization right from the start. Similar to a child, a significant amount of a dog’s behaviour and personality is determined by experiences within their first year. Here are some experiences, people and places you should introduce your puppy to so they can learn and grow.
PEOPLE + ANIMALS: Puppies need to get comfortable around all people and animals to avoid fear or aggression when they finally do come into contact. This includes adults, adult dogs, other puppies, loud voices and different ethnicities all of which can be experienced at your local Dogtopia. Additionally, puppies should also get familiar with children, police, beards, joggers, hats, cats, small pets and birds.
TRAFFIC & PLACES: Puppies are new to the world and have no knowledge on what’s safe and what’s not, Dogtopia recommends its daycare services to acclimate your pup with cars/vans and boarding.Experiencing what’s around the neighbourhood is also beneficial in preventing anxieties, this includes parks, veterinarians, stairs, loud motorcycles, bikes, skateboards and wheelchairs.
EDUCATION: General education is important to learn as puppies so they grow into a well-behaved dog. New puppy parents should start practising basics like sit, stay, come, shake/friends, down/lie down, drop it and heel. Don’t forget to offer treats and belly rubs when your puppy obeys, it’ll keep them motivated to continue learning.
HEALTH & WELLNESS: This is very important to get your puppy use to grooming at a young age to avoid fear or aggression in their routine. As puppies, get them used to regular exercise, grooming, teeth cleaning, brushing, baths, nail trims, collars and leashes, and looking in their mouth and ears.
SOUNDS: Since the world around your puppy is totally new sounds can be cause for fear. Try getting them used to barking, music, clapping, vacuum, doorbells, hairdryers, fireworks and sirens to build their confidence.
Get Them Comfortable in an Empty House
Test your dog’s behaviour when you leave the house and return. Walk out the door, lock it and take a quick walk around the block. When you get home listen to hear if your puppy is barking, whining or scratching at the door. These along with howling, drooling, panting and chewing doors are signs of separation anxiety. When you come back into the house, maintain a calm demeanor, and positively praise your dog. If you find your puppy getting agitated when you leave, turn on the radio or TV to give them background noise and some peace of mind.
If your dog is engaging in extreme, destructive behaviour while you are away, contact your veterinarian, a canine behaviourist or your daycare to discuss training alternatives to keep them relaxed.
Make Independent Play Time a Priority
Get your puppy use to playing alone. While these activities provide mental and physical stimulation, they also provide entertainment that can keep them occupied for hours. The good news is that you can build these activities and makes these treats by using things around your house. Try a few of these ideas to find out what your dog loves:
- Muffin Tin Brain Game – provides extra brain stimulation
- Pupsicles – a refreshing treat that doubles as a toy
- Kong Treats – stuff them with peanut butter and freeze them
Next time you leave the house, treat them to their favourite food or bone, something that will take them a while to eat. This will get them to associate you leaving as a good thing because they get a yummy, special treat to enjoy when they are alone.
Bring Them to Dogtopia Daycare
Dog daycare is the perfect place for your puppy to get the socialization and exercise they need when you can’t be with them. Your pup will enjoy playing with other dogs of a similar size and personality and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they are being watched by a highly trained and loving team. Plus, you can check in on them from home or work via live webcams. Each dog is evaluated to make sure they are comfortable in our open-play environment, and we make sure all dogs are up to date with vaccines. We follow strict health & safety protocols including no touch drop off. With a day packed with fun, they’ll come home happy and tired, and you’ll avoid the guilt of leaving them alone, a win-win for everyone! Find a Dogtopia daycare centre near you.