What Have We Learned About Our Dogs During Covid-19?
Posted on May 4th, 2020 by FetchMasters in Uncategorized
When Covid-19 first reared its ugly head, sales calls for dog training and dog photography in Denver pretty much dried up. Fearful of layoffs — and with grim prospects for the immediate future — people canceled their dog training reservations, requested refunds, hoarded toilet paper and hunkered down. Then came the shelter-at-home orders. It was official, there was no choice but to stay at home with our dogs. How bad could THAT be? After all, the dog is our best friend! Right?
While dog boarding remained an essential service, many people didn’t want to risk exposure by leaving their homes, and they did not want to spend money unnecessarily on dog boarding. Within a few weeks of the shelter-at-home orders being announced, the phones at FetchMasters began to ring again. Hmmm. What changed?
Well, the calls that came in reflected three things related to dogs and their owners during Covid-19.
SOME PEOPLE REALIZED JUST HOW MUCH TRAINING THEIR DOGS NEEDED.
It appears many owners unwisely procrastinated their dogs’ training prior to Covid-19. After all, if the owner is at work all day, and the dog is at home alone or at daycare, the dogs’ behavioral issues don’t seem as problematic. But when an owner spends 24 hours a day with a dog — even one that has only minor behavioral issues — the stress can accumulate.
Likewise, owners discovered their lack of knowledge about how to appropriately live with dogs. They found their inadequacies magnified by the additional time they had to spend with their misbehaving canine friends. They didn’t know what they didn’t know … but now they do.
So, to summarize, the shelter-at-home orders shined a spotlight on the lack of training of dogs and their owners.
SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO ADOPT A PUPPY.
Here’s another interesting one. A lot of people thought the Covid-19 outbreak was a great time to acquire a puppy or an adult dog. In several reports I’ve heard, shelters actually had a hard time keeping up with the demand.
I’m guessing people acquired dogs to combat the inevitable loneliness that the shelter-in-place orders represented. Or, maybe people felt that they now had the extra time on their hands to start raising a puppy. And, frankly, that may have been a very smart move. Puppies take more time and effort that folks realize.
But suffice it to say, many phone calls were generated by this phenomena. So now FetchMasters — and surely a lot of other dog trainers in Denver — are working to keep those puppies and adult dogs from finding their way to back to the shelters.
DOG TRAINING VIA DISTANCE COACHING BECAME A THING.
Regardless of whether people found themselves in the first category above or the second one, people spent more time getting to know their dogs and more time training them than ever before. But the way they did it surprised all of us dog trainers.
Prior to Covid-19 distance coaching was scarcely a thing. Yeah, trainers offered it, and some people purchased it. But thousands of dog owners — left with no other option for getting training — gave distance coaching a try. And voila! Turns out, distance coaching is a highly effective replacement for in-person one-on-one coaching in the home in many situations! And it could be argued that in some cases it is actually better. I’ll have to write another post on that in the near future, but it’s surprisingly true.
I’ll be honest, as a dog trainer I did not even see that coming, but I’m glad distance coaching is now part of the new dog training landscape.
The truth is, we probably all learned a lot about ourselves, our families and our dogs during this difficult time of sheltering in place. And we were introduced to new technological possibilities for education — including dog training education.
The shelter-at-home orders in Denver, Colorado, will start lifting in a few days. It remains to be seen what the long term effects of Covid-19 will be on our families, dogs, and education. But I do believe that, when the smoke clears, all things will work out for good.