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Quarantine Puppies in a Post-Pandemic World: How to Help Them Thrive

If you are one of the tens of thousands of people who sought out a new puppy to help endure the lonely, uncertain days of the Coronavirus Pandemic; this is for you.

While most businesses were shuttered or fearing uncertain times this time last year, dog breeders were experiencing something altogether unexpected; a boom in business. Most established breeders get 1-15 applications daily during normal time, but from March 2020 through about December 2020, it was not unusual to get 100 per day. Many breeders stopped accepting phone calls and applications due to the sheer numbers, and many of us still have puppies reserved 6 months to 2 years in advance because of it.

Here at Sweethaven, our Goldendoodle puppies, particularly mini-goldendoodles are sold before they are born, but the pandemic “puppy boom” has made them sold out much further in advance than previous years.

All of that to say this; a LOT of people got new puppies during 2020.

A Lot!

And why not? Dogs are called “Man’s Best Friend” for good reason. The companionship, comfort and unconditional love that dog brings to a family is priceless. During such an uncertain time, it is doubtless that these puppies have brought GREAT JOY to families across the nation.

What About When I go Back to Work?

This is on the minds of many, as the vaccination roll-out has businesses slowly opening back up for in-person working, schools are going back to all in-person learning and life in general is getting social again.

Let's look at it from the dog’s perspective for a moment.

Your puppy has ONLY EVER KNOWN pandemic life. They were born, purchased or adopted and have grown up in a world where their humans are home most, if not all of the time. They are showered with attention and love, and absolutely have an amazing life. It could even be said that 2020 has been THE year to be a dog.

The problem with all of these seemingly nice things is that we cannot rationalize changes to a dog. We simply can't explain to them that, “It is going to be OK”. They may experience severe separation anxiety or behavioral issues when they suddenly find themselves in an empty house day after day with a completely different schedule.

How to Help your Pooch Adjust

Fortunately, with a little forethought, you can begin to prepare your pup for the transition. Here is a loose game plan:

  1. If you have not crate trained your dog OR given your dog a closed off area/room to have their “Alone Time”, then it is time to start. You will want to do this gradually. We never want to simply place a dog in a kennel or room abruptly. Their alone time needs to be fun and special.

  • If you are just starting to train your pup to a kennel, we suggest finding some online resources to help with the gradual acclimation. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel here. There are loads of video sources on youtube about crate training. This is a VALUABLE skill that all dogs should have.

  • Slow and Steady wins the race. This should never be forced, and your dog shouldn’t feel anxiety or fear while acclimating to the kennel

  • We recommend high value treats to get the process started. Meaty bones from the butcher, bully sticks or other really special treat. (Disclaimer: Always supervise pup with treats)

  • Keep it light. Don’t get frustrated if it takes a while and be sure to use you "happy voice" when talking to your dog about their kennel.

  • You may need to actually sit with your puppy several times per day with the crate door open. Give them the high value treat only while they are sitting in the crate. After a few days, try closing the door and staying there. After several days of that, try leaving the room for a minute or two. Keep with this pattern until your dog gets excited at crate time.

  • Remember that this is going to take time and consistency, but will be very much worth it!

2. Consider what other daily activities will have to be altered once you return to school and work.

  • Will the daily walk have to be at a different time?

  • Will feeding times change?

  • How about bedtime and waking up time?

Consider these changes and begin to slowly change your daily activities to more closely resemble post-pandemic life.

3. We hope that your breeder had very clear socialization protocols laid out for you when you purchased you puppy. The truth, though, is that most breeders don’t give much thought to the life a puppy will have once it leaves. Here at Sweethaven, we give a lot of instructions about post-Sweethaven life, socialization protocols and regular emails to keep puppy owners up-to-date on ages and stages. The prime socialization window is 8-16 weeks old. Socialization shouldn’t stop there, though. Taking your pup out in public at least once a week should be second nature that first year. It has been tough during the pandemic, so caution should be taken to start the socialization process.

  • Take walks on different paths

  • Try to briefly go places where you might encounter strangers; both human and dog

  • Go slow, and consult a trainer if your dog is fearful of new situations. Never put a fearful dog in a position to bite.

What About Doggie Day Care?

The answer to this depends on so many things. There is not a one size fits all. If your dog is very social, loves other dogs and is a bundle of energy, this may be a great thing.

We would recommend a short trial run. Talk to the Daycare about doing an hour or two for a few days and moving up in time as you gauge the progress.

If your dog is fearful or very submissive to other dogs, this might not be the best choice. Doggie Daycare may simply cause more anxiety. Those dogs might be better served by doing all of the above suggestions to get them accustomed to being alone more AND slowly teaching them that they do not need to fear new situations.

Don’t get Frustrated

Remember that your dog might have an adjustment period even after taking the time to do the above suggested things. Their entire world is shifting, and they will never fully understand why. The best thing we can do is to have patience, and realize that any unwanted behaviors that arise during this change are simply a manifestation of anxiety or boredom. In some instances, it may be necessary to bring in a trainer or behaviorist to evaluate the environment, schedule and behaviors to help you make a plan.

If you purchased a poodle or goldendoodle from Sweethaven Kennels, remember, we are invested in the long term well being of your puppy! Please reach out with any questions or tips on how to help your puppy transition to a post pandemic world.

Peace & Love,

The Sweethaven Family

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