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Pandemic Pups

Hi, Friends! Scooter here. Like all of you my family and I are now living through the 6th month of this thing called a “Pandemic” which they tell me means that there is a disease which has spread worldwide. Whatever it is, it sure has changed my world and probably yours and your pet(s). We still stay home most of the time.

One of the effects that we are starting to see now is that many pets are being surrendered by their owners. At the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., families started adopting pets in almost record numbers. However, as the time of being in quarantine has lengthened, the pets that were adopted or purchased with the idea of adding warmth, love, and friendship to a family have become stressors. Families have been faced with enormous health and financial issues as a result of the pandemic. This means that in some cases they are no longer able to provide for a pet’s needs. Some of the pets surrendered now to rescues and animal shelters have not been well socialized, have not received proper veterinary care, and have become a burden to their families. Maybe you or someone you know is dealing with a puppy/dog that needs socialization. Here are some tips to help to socialize your puppy/dog during these unusual times.

These activities can all be done in your home or yard and with social distancing. It is important to expose your dog, especially puppies to a wide variety of sights, sounds, and a variety of stimulation. Sit with your dog/puppy on an enclosed porch or fenced in area where neighbors and their activities can be observed. Talk about it with your pet and give names to new things they see and hear. Wear a variety of odd clothing including hats, sun glasses, or scarves/masks so they can practice interacting with a “stranger”. Provide a variety of “new” things for them to explore and walk on such as a rubber mat, a hula hoop, a spongy pillow or cushion. Always provide a reward and praise when the pet responds positively to the new experience. Introduce novel items such as umbrellas, walkers, and things that make noise like whistles, bells, or party horns. Think outside the box and create hide and seek games, obstacle courses, new tricks, and playing with a sprinkler or chasing bubbles.

It is a good idea to establish a routine with your pet regarding time to get up, time to play, time to take a walk, and time to rest quietly away from you. Of course, as each community’s quarantine restrictions are lifted, it is important to get the pet into the community. Just a side note, be sure your pet is up to date on all required vaccinations prior to trips into the community. Rabies vaccine is the law in NC. Perhaps, first trips should just be car trips and you and the pet sit quietly in parking lots and observe sounds and sights. The pet’s first exposure to new places to get out and walk/explore should be places that are fairly quiet. As the pet’s confidence increases, you can introduce places that have a larger variety of stimulation. Observe your pet closely for signs of stress in a new location and leave immediately if your pet is becoming uncomfortable by too much stimulation.

Have fun and stay safe!

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