The last year and a half haven’t been easy for anyone.
But even as we all saw our daily lives frozen, our personal and professional worlds changed, and our futures up-ended, there was still one amazing constant.
The simple idea of working remotely, for those of us lucky enough to be able to do so, meant an opportunity to spend more time with those bundles of fur and energy that mean so much to us.
And we’re not the only ones.
It turns out that an incredible 23 million American households acquired a pet during the COVID pandemic.
23 million American households are discovering (and re-discovering) the joys of having a dog around, of seeing their kids grow up with a canine companion, and of extending the love of their family to a new member.
But what causes some of us to worry is what happens next.
Can we stay this happy forever?
Why People Are Worried About The Recently Adopted Pandemic Puppies
COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted all around the country.
In general, that’s cause for celebration. For one, it means we’re beating back a pandemic that’s caused unprecedented sickness and pain to families all over the country.
It also means the opening up of public facilities - like dog parks - and private ones - like offices and workspaces.
That means life is going back to what we might call “normal “ - the 9-to-5s, the Happy Hours, the weekend trips. For some of those 23 million American households, that means life goes back to what it was before they’d adopted their pup.
Except now they have a dog.
This has led to a number of worrying reports about pandemic puppies, from dogs being left alone for the first time to animals being returned at twice the normal rate (with many around the 1-year mark). Of those returning dogs, many are first-time adopters or owners who didn’t have the experience necessary to train their new animals.
And while the reports may be conflicted about how much of a trend this is, there is one truth underlying it all:
We need to come together to make sure that our dogs feel the same sense of love and security they provide us.
Ways You Can Keep Your Puppy Happy And Healthy After The Pandemic
Our dogs provide a daily sense of comfort and calm. During the pandemic, that peace couldn’t have been more precious as we were bombarded by border closures, job losses, and family emergencies on a regular basis.
Now that we find ourselves in a better position, we owe it to our companions to make sure they feel the same sense of support. But for many of us, staying at home full-time is no longer an option, meaning you’ll need to make plans for your pup during the day so they stay happy, stimulated, and secure.
So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of resources and ideas to make sure your companion stays happy and healthy and you can continue to have a long, loving relationship together.
Make The Transition A Real Transition - Much has been said about transitioning back to work, and we encourage you to take it literally. Following a suggestion by the ASPCA, gradually increasing the time you’re away from home (rather than going cold turkey with an 8-hour workday) will help your pet prepare for those longer stretches during the week.
Exercise Away The Energy - As is often the case, a tired dog is a good dog. If you do need to leave the house for a while, give your dog a bit of exercise just before. Maybe it’s 15 minutes of play or a 20-minute walk. The pandemic meant we were all around for impromptu play sessions at the drop of a hat, so transitioning back to a more regular work schedule means scheduling these energy-expending activities, too.
Be Aware Of Anxiety - Just like people, pets get anxiety, too. But this behavior could very well be a reaction to changes, so the warning signs - pacing, panting, whining, soiling in the house - should be met with care. Consider a professional dog trainer, especially for puppies adopted during the pandemic that may not have had as many opportunities for traditional socialization.
Calm Them With Toys and Noise - Consider these two great strategies for reducing anxiety come from North Shore Animal League America. First, when you’ve got to head out, consider leaving on some background noise (a TV show, music, or even an audiobook) to keep the sound of human voices around. Then, a puzzle feeder with half of the amount of their daily food will keep your pup playful and engaged throughout the day.
Be Mindful If You Move - Though it can be a heavier subject, many Americans are facing the threat of rising rent prices or relocations. Unfortunately, some may see that as a reason to leave their pup behind. But your dog is a part of your family, so it’s important to make sure your new home can accommodate them. Marin Humane has a great list of what to consider when moving with your dog, including the documents you’ll likely need to show and what you should look for in rental contracts. By doing the research now - and sharing the information with loved ones - you can keep more animals out of shelters.
- Talk To Friends & Family - If there’s a takeaway from the pandemic, it’s about how we prioritize our loved ones in our lives. With a pup as part of your life, you shouldn’t feel shy about leaning on friends, family, and neighbors. Whether it’s asking them for a walk once a week, to take your dog for the weekend if you have to travel for work, or even paying a local youngster to take your pup to the park, there are plenty of ways to involve your community to make sure your canine companion gets the attention they deserve.
In fact, it’s on that last note that we’d like to share something very emotional with you.
When #WeWalkTogether, We Walk Further
Many of us are familiar with the proverb “It takes a village.” It means we’re all responsible for the young ones in our community, for providing them with love, support, and positivity - and to lend a hand when their families need it.
The same is true for our dogs. What started as a desire to make sure the puppies adopted or purchased during the pandemic - and their families - got the love and support they needed to make sure they didn’t end up back at the shelter turned into something much bigger.
That’s why we’re beyond excited to announce We Walk Together.
As people return to work, travel and their busy lives, many of our pets are being left at home for extended periods of time, isolated and lonely. In many cases, this can lead to those dogs being put up for adoption again.
But with #WeWalkTogether, we recognize how important it is to support one another by helping out with the dogs in their lives. After all, we lean on them for support to take care of our kids and to help watch our homes. Taking our dogs for a walk may seem like a simple act, but the truth is it’s a powerful one.
Our lives have changed over these past two years. For those of us who find ourselves pet owners for the first time, it’s okay to admit that you’re experiencing something new, especially as you go back to work and are having to leave your companion at home for the first time in your relationship.
But there’s no need to feel guilty, and no need to think about going backward. There’s no need to consider going back to the shelter. Instead, look toward your community and you’ll find the help you need.
Because when #WeWalkTogether, when we support each other and the dogs in our lives, we walk forward.
We’ve got much more planned for #WeWalkTogether, but we want to start with something simple and sweet. Upload photos on social media with your dog and your favorite dog-walking buddy with the hashtag #WeWalkTogether to give love and support to the importance of our community!