So you’re at home all day, wouldn’t it be the best time to add a new dog to your family? You have so much time to spend with your new family member, everybody is home to give the new dog lots of attention, you have more time to go for really long walks, and you would never have to worry about how your dog is going to handle being home alone! Does that mean you should get a dog?
When thinking about adding a new dog to your family, you have to consider a plan for how to navigate the transition period and setting expectations for their behaviour during the pandemic “normal” as well as your post-pandemic “normal”. They will have to go through 2 transition periods in your home which will be a huge adjustment. If your new dog gets used to you being home all the time, they are also at risk of developing separation anxiety when you do start leaving the house. Does that mean you shouldn’t get a dog?
There is no real right answer.
Getting a new dog during a pandemic is harder than getting a dog during your normal schedule, but it can be a possibility with lots of work and structure. You have to treat your new dog as if you were away from home with your normal routine to prepare them for when you go back to work. This can be done with a strict routine including lots of crate time, training time, walk times, and free time. Set your dog up for success by giving them lots of structure and teaching them that its ok to be alone and have down time.
Does that seem unfair to enforce alone time on your dog? Not at all! It’s important for your dog to learn that its ok to be alone. Imagine a pup that comes into a new home, is showered with attention all day long for months, and then suddenly one day your people leave for 8 hours per day? THAT is an unfair transition for a dog. That kind of sudden “abandonment” without ever learning that its ok to be alone can cause severe anxiety in dogs, leading to destructive behaviours and whining.
Then you have to consider what you can give to your dog during the pandemic and after. Things to consider:
-Dogs are expensive, and can cost $2000/year for an adult dog on regular food and vetting, not including emergencies or the cost of vetting during their first year. If you’ve been laid off, is that something you could support? Would you be able to afford an emergency?
-Many vets are not taking non-emergency appointments during the pandemic, would you be ok waiting to get your dog spayed/neutered? Are you able to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, or able to properly socialize so no issues arise from an intact male? Are you able to handle a female dog going through heat?
-Are you able to provide enough structure during the pandemic that your pet will be able to adjust to your routine afterwards?
-Can you add a new dog to your family while remaining socially distanced? Can you test that that dog will be a good fit to your family well being socially distanced? Have you done your research?
-You have enough time for a new dog now, will you have enough time when you go back to work?
Adding a new dog to your family during a pandemic takes a lot of planning on your part, to make a complete plan to for a new dog during the pandemic, as well as afterwards, taking into account your plan for finances, training, socializing, enough time for a new dog, how you’ll introduce your new dog to your extended family and friends in a safe way after the pandemic, if you’re able to advocate for your dog during all of the changes, and do you have a plan to navigate any unexpected behaviours? What is your backup plan? If you want to chat about adding a new dog to your family during a pandemic, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!