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Pandemic Puppy Primer

7097 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  PeggyTheParti
The pandemic has created some unique challenges for families adding a new puppy or adult dog to their home. On the one hand, we finally have the time to devote to a four legged family member; on the other hand, surging demand has led to adoption and sales scams, and social distancing requirements have diminished opportunities for training and socialization.

In light of these concerns, we created this Pandemic Puppy Primer as a starting point for families with new dogs. We intentionally kept the discussion short to keep the focus on resources to help families. We also chose to share a few targeted resources on each topic rather than create an exhaustive list in order to preserve readability and accessibility.

Topics include:
  • While You're Waiting for Your New Puppy to Come Home
  • Buyer Beware! Adoption & Sales Scams
  • Training Courses - How to choose a trainer and online/virtual trainers
  • Socialization - Checklist and resources
  • Impulse Control
  • Separation Anxiety
  • A Word About Housetraining
  • Choosing to Give Up Your Dog
We hope it is of benefit to our human and dog community here at Poodle Forum.

While You're Waiting for Your New Puppy to Come Home
Whether you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of puppies or have already come home with an adult dog and are wondering what you've gotten yourself into, this is where to start. Between shopping trips for essentials items and puppy-proofing your home, here is some reading to get you in the mindset of life with your new dog:

Buyer Beware! Adoption & Sales Scams

With the explosion of interest in dog ownership, it’s not surprising that dog adoption and sales scams have also increased. Families looking to add the perfect puppy face a shortage of well-bred litters, sky high prices, and con artists eager to lighten your wallet.

The best advice we can give is to take your time. When the pandemic winds down, you’ll thank us for cautioning you to hold out for the right dog, not just the first dog. We understand how hard it is to wait for the right puppy, but if this is your first dog, you have plenty to do between talking with breeders, buying essential items, and identifying local resources like a trainer, training club, and dog-safe socialization opportunities.

Training Courses
The most important thing to understand about training is that you started doing it the moment you met your dog. Your new dog is a sponge, bred to be expert in reading people and diligent in soaking up everything there is to know about you, your habits, and what pleases and displeases you. Your poodle is a star pupil, and YOU are the favorite subject! You have already unintentionally trained your dog, so let's turn that around with some intentional training.

How to Choose a Trainer
Dog training is an unregulated industry, which means that anyone can call themself a dog trainer despite little or no experience or success. To combat this, well respected trainers have created their own certifications to set a floor for competency standards. Here’s a brief introduction to some of the acronyms you may see while searching for a trainer:
  • CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA - This is the preferred accreditation of many PF members. All of these titles are associated with the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, which has handily published a Directory of Trainers to assist you in connecting with a skilled and experienced trainer.
  • KPA - The Karen Pryor Academy is a leader in modern, science-based positive reinforcement methods, and the KPA certification reflects an intensive education in dog training. Karen Pryor’s model utilizes clicker training.
  • AKC (if in the USA) - You may see trainers advertise that they are certified evaluators for the American Kennel Club (or your national KC if outside of the US). These trainers are usually highly experienced in a particular program such as Canine Good Citizen or Trick Training.
  • APDT - Membership in the Association of Professional Dog Trainers is fee-based and not to be confused with the vigorous certification procedures of CPDT and KPA. It is, however, another resource for seeking trainers who support a least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training.
Recommended Online/Virtual Trainers

One aspect of training a new puppy that you do not want to neglect is socialization. While your puppy is focused on potty training, mastering basic commands, and getting acclimated to life in your home, you will also want to create careful opportunities to expose your dog to other people, other dogs, and routine events like car rides, grooming, veterinary care, and being home alone.

The pandemic and social distancing requirements have made socialization difficult, which means it’s even more important to work on socialization early and consistently. There is no time to waste as puppies have a natural socialization window that closes around 14-16 weeks of age. Some behaviorists recommend exposing your dog to 50 new situations every week.

Exposure checklist
  • Clothing (such as hoodies, raincoats, umbrellas, hats, and sunglasses)
  • Car rides, parking lots, and waiting in the car
  • Grooming and handling
  • Veterinary care
  • Different surfaces (grass, pavement, bridges, puddles, playground equipment)
  • A wide variety of people, dogs, and other animals
  • Being home alone

Impulse Control
Having a calm, collected dog is the dream. Here are some ideas to train your dog to be bomb-proof.

Separation Anxiety
If all that wasn’t enough, you also need to prepare your dog for life after the pandemic, when you go back to the workplace and your dog is home alone during the day. The best thing you can do is start training your dog to be home alone by practicing leaving your dog at home, even if you’re only gone for a few minutes. If separation anxiety becomes severe, drugs and other interventions may be necessary.

A Word About Housetraining
A perennial topic, careful management of your new dog's access to space in your house during the first few weeks will prevent dreaded accidents and teach your dog the boundaries of their new home.

Choosing to Give Up Your Dog
One foreseeable and heartbreaking consequence of the run on puppies and dogs during this pandemic is the inevitable surge of dogs that will end up in rescue afterward. If you are at this point, please consider surrendering your dog to a breed rescue or No Kill Shelter in your area. Below is a link to these in the US, Canada, and several other countries.
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Big thanks to @Liz for compiling this excellent list of resources. If you would like to suggest any updates or additions, please send a note to @Vita, @cowpony, or me.
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