When should you get your dog ready for a ‘return to normal’? Yesterday.

Julie Shade had a dog in April because she felt she finally had time to look after a puppy.

She had successfully worked from home for a year, moved from Baltimore to the Bay Area to live with her boyfriend, and saved money to use for veterinary expenses. Her puppy, Echo, a miniature American Shepherd, has been a joyous addition to her life.

But when her job in Baltimore said she would be in the office four to six times a year for at least a week, she was surprised.

“I didn’t think things would open up so quickly,” said the 25-year-old Shade. “I’ve never been away from Echo.”

Shade said it was inconceivable to give up on Echo. She is committed to taking care of them and loves the dog very much. But she’s one of the many new dog owners who needs to make some big adjustments.

Many people added dogs to their families during the pandemic, and reports that they are now returning their dogs to shelters as the country reopens are exaggerated. Most people who have dragged a dog into the pandemic find themselves in a situation like Shade’s: the dog isn’t going anywhere, but both the owner and the animal need to adjust their relationships with one another – and with the outside world.

Julie Shade adopted Echo during the pandemic.Courtesy Julie Shade

For people who had dogs while working from home, the time had come yesterday to help them adapt to the post-pandemic world, New York dog trainer Shelby Semel said.

Pandemic puppies, and even dogs that humans had before the pandemic, have to adjust to the fact that they won’t have their owner all the time.

Semel told customers during the pandemic that it was important for them to find ways to give their dogs time to themselves, even if it meant moving the dog to another room and closing the door.

“Pushing your dog too far too quickly can have the opposite effect,” she said. When you return to the office in September, start your training now.

“Although they didn’t want to be left alone all day, a lot of dogs don’t want to be with us around the clock,” said Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, a veterinary behaviorist and clinical assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Rest time is important for dogs who don’t want to miss the action but shouldn’t be on call all day either.

Still, for people going back to the office, make sure their dog is programming something during the day.

“Change is difficult for dogs,” said Borns-Weil. “You need a routine,” like a dog walker or a daycare center.

Dogs also need socialization, which many were sorely lacking during the pandemic. Semel recently went to a client’s home to train a 4 to 5 month old puppy with normal problems such as sipping.

“When I walked in the door, the puppy was actually hiding,” she said. “Little did the owners know that this was a problem at all.” The dog owners told Semel they had only one person with them since they got the dog and that was some time ago.

Now she asks all of her customers how often they have people with them, which she didn’t have to ask before the pandemic.

“We definitely see a lot of dogs that haven’t been exposed to other dogs or people coming into their home. Sometimes they’re not used to people coming in even though they liked people outside,” she said.

Before the pandemic, she held a “wallflower class” once a year for under-socialized adult dogs. In 2021, she has already held three.

In the past six months, Semel’s demand has tripled. You and the many other trainers in Manhattan now often have three to eight weeks waiting lists before they can acquire new clients. Semel has been running virtual training throughout the pandemic and recently ran a restaurant training course.

“Now that New York City has all this outdoor seating that wasn’t there before, people want perfectly behaved dogs to be brought out to brunch,” Semel said. “That would never have happened before the pandemic.”

If you are concerned about how the pandemic has affected your dog, “now is the time to prepare the dog for success,” said Borns-Weil. Remember, the pandemic was not only bad for dogs, and it will not return to normal life either.

“For the dogs that had too much togetherness, I think that when the children go back to school, they will breathe a sigh of relief,” said Borns-Weil.

Since Shade’s friend is a medical student who is often away 16 hours a day, she will take Echo to a nearby dog ​​hotel when she has to travel to work.

“I’m sure she’ll have a great time,” said Shade. “I’ll probably be more angry than you are.”

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