News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Adopting your pandemic puppy

COVID-19 has been great for shelter animals. During the coronavirus pandemic, dog and cat adoptions and applications for foster homes have been on the upswing.

Many shelters and rescues have suspended the ability for the public to casually visit the shelter in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 to staff, and have transitioned to by appointment for adoptions or for placement of animals into foster homes.

Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) is now available by appointment only.

HSCO Staff member Darrin Morrow told The Nugget, “There are more people interested in adopting right now. They are emailing, phoning, and making appointments to adopt. As a matter of fact, right now, we actually have nothing available.”

HSCO is also limiting their intake of surrendered animals. Their website, is up to date and now has a listing with photos of stray animals that have been brought in.

He added, “As soon as we get animals up for adoption they are usually gone in a day or two.”

Spending time with pets tops the list of ways that people battle stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and of course, cabin fever.

With the “Stay Home, Save Lives” order in Oregon, people that have put off adopting a puppy because they didn’t have time, are now searching the web for that cute little ball of fur.

Bringing a new puppy into your home will change your life forever. Puppies are a lot of work but can also bring plenty of joy to you and your family’s world.

Raising a puppy takes lots of preparation, practice, and patience, plus a good dose of common sense. It can be a rewarding experience, but also pretty exhausting.

Much like human babies, a puppy needs love, attention and playtime. He also needs potty training, vaccinations and toys that he can chew on. Puppies have lots of ‘needs’ and most of them can be easy to meet, but there might be some that you haven’t thought of.

Remember your baby pooch will need certain items from the very start and some are essential for your pup’s well-being, like the right puppy food. More important items include a leash and collar with identification, food and water bowls and chew toys. You should get a doggie bed and, preferably, a crate or kennel.

You should begin house-training as soon as you bring your new furry companion home. It can help to get him on a routine. As a general rule, you should take your puppy to the designated “potty spot” immediately after eating or drinking. Accidents do happen, so be prepared, consistent and patient. Beyond housebreaking, there are many more things you will need to teach your puppy. Start by working on socialization.

It’s important for puppies that are 8–14 weeks of age to have positive socializing experiences to help shape them into confident dogs. The social distancing required during the COVID-19 pandemic can make it more challenging to provide puppies with the pleasant encounters they need.

Dog trainer Monica Rendon noted, “Don’t skimp on the socialization and exposure to novel stimuli up to the three-month period. It pays huge dividend.”

She said that going to Home Depot or Lowes while carrying your pup (with social distancing) is a good way to socialize during the pandemic.

“It will expose him to the novel noises and sights that are important to a well-rounded dog,” she said.

Place your pup on lots of different surfaces such as grass, concrete, rocks, dirt, etc. Take your puppy for car rides. If you have a puppy that gets car sick, make the trips short and enjoyable. Go to an open grocery store and sit in the parking lot, giving treats as your puppy watches people walk around outside.

Expose your puppy to different sounds. Find different soundtracks and songs to play while your puppy rests, plays, or eats. Think of all the everyday sounds around your home, including hairdryers, phone ringtones, radios, vacuum cleaners and more. There are even recordings of sounds like thunder and other dogs barking that you can download for your puppy to hear. Be sure to make each noise exposure a positive experience by acting happy around the sound and associating the sound with yummy treats and watch your puppy for any signs of stress.

Rendon added, “You should be able to start seeing your pup’s temperament emerge as exposure happens. If you see signs of a skittish temperament, then you’ve already identified things to work on before it becomes a big problem Take your puppy for walks (as long as he’s had his first rounds of DHPP shots) around noise, and sights. I think if you are smart you can stay safe, yet still give your pup what he desperately needs for future development.”

Hopefully the quarantine period may soon be over, and you may not have as much time to spend together with your pooch. Because learning to be without people is as important as learning to be with them, now is the time to also teach your puppy to stay by himself in a crate or a gated area. Place your crate in a nested area, such as a corner of the family room or in your bedroom. Provide a chew or food-stuffed toy in the crate, and cover if it helps. Spend time in another room, cooking or reading without your pup.

Learning to be without you will be a useful skill for the rest of his life.


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