Welcoming the dog to a forever home


dogparentingIf there is some good that has come out of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that more and more fur babies are finding their forever homes.

Which is great! Dogs are an endless source of amusement, particularly the less bright ones (the author can make that joke, as he owns a lab, a breed the AKC refers to as “hilariously dumb”).

But beware, owning a dog isn’t all about distracting your children and laughing while they chase their own tail (the dog, we mean). The spontaneous decision to welcome a new member to your family just because you’re spending more time inside comes with some very real responsibilities, especially as restrictions are lessened and you can roam the outside world.

“One thing I’m seeing is that as people get back into their old work situations, we’re starting to see separation anxiety,” said area dog trainer Abby Bird with Alpha Dog. “People have been home an absurd amount of time.”

As far as your new dog knows, everyone in its new home is always there, all the time. When you start going back to work and the kids resume social activities at a safe distance, this can be a major shock.


Local trainers Alison Armeo (Leader of the Pack) and Abby Bird (Alpha Dog) offer these tips:

  1. Start early: “As soon as possible, start on the basic commands – come, sit, down. It will go a long way later on,” said Armeo.
  2. Quell separation anxiety through play: When you know you’ll be leaving the dog alone for some time, give it some exercise.
  3. Curb barking humanely: “One of my favorites is a citronella collar,” said Bird. “When the dog starts to bark, a little whiff of citronella hits their face. Do pre-training where you train them with the citronella, and they will start to understand.”
  4. Establish the ground rules early: “If you don’t want the dog up on the couch when it 50 pounds, don’t let it up on the couch when it’s a 5-pound puppy,” said Armeo.
  5. Ease into leash training: It’s hot right now, which means your dog will tire out sooner, especially puppies. “They don’t have the stamina yet,” said Bird. “They develop that as they get older.”

“I would certainly advise families that even if they’re not going anywhere, leave the dog home alone for short periods of time, even if it’s just walking to the corner and back,” said Bird.

This allows your dog to ease into the notion that they’re going to be spending some time in this new house all by themselves.

The spontaneous decision to welcome a new member to your family just because you’re spending more time inside comes with some very real responsibilities.

Another side effect of introducing a dog to your family during this uniquely Netflix-heavy time in history is that as your dog gets to know your family, they’re not getting to know anyone else. It’s important in these early stages that dogs have a chance to get out there and meet other dogs, sniff a few butts and maybe spend an afternoon getting absolutely caked with what you hope is mud at the local dog park.

Local trainer Alison Armeo with Leader of the Pack stresses the importance of letting your dog be around other dogs. In times like this “you have to do it times 10.”

She recommends looking into puppy classes held outdoors that will allow you to develop your puppy’s socialization in an environment where their owners can keep a safe distance.

It’s a wonderful thing that you’ve welcomed a new dog into your family. But, if you want your new family member to be well adjusted and happy, you may have to get out of the pajamas and show them the world beyond their new home