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  • Makayla Kurchak, Taylor Wilsey, Rian McClenney

COVID-19 Makes Puppies More Popular

The year 2020 was a difficult year for many, with a reported 42% of the workforce working from home, and another 33% unemployed, according to M. Wong of the Stanford News.

During this time, while some individuals created TikToks, watched “Tiger King,” and played “AmongUs,” many also adopted a dog or a cat.

PetPoint, an organization that tracks the number of animals being adopted from animal welfare organizations across the United States, reported that in the March 2020 adoption rates across the country increased to 85%. This means that if an individual had a friend group of eight, around seven of the members would have gotten a pet during the shutdown. While new pet parents are happy to have companionship during the many months spent at home, veterinary behaviorists warn that this may be a mistake.

A Puppy Problem

As pet adoption surged and Americans stayed in house, their new companions did not have to leave their side either. While many pet owners did not see this as a problem, veterinary behaviorists raised red flags. Author Tony McReynolds, with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), spoke with board-certified veterinary behaviorist Leslie Sinn, DVM, DACVB, CPDT-KA, and reported that Sinn believed it was naïve for Americans to think that they can spend almost 24/7 with their new pet for many months, then abruptly go back to work.

McReynolds also said that Sinn reported with Americans abruptly going back to work, a large number of pet owners are experiencing behavioral problems with their pets associated with separation anxiety.

Tips for Reducing Pet Separation Anxiety

Veterinary behaviorist Sinn advises that pet parents should make sure their pet is accustomed to spending periods alone. Even exiting the house for 30 minutes or more at the same time a few days a week will help to easy pet anxiety, as the pet begins to understand that their owner will be coming back thus there is no reason to stress. Other professionals at The Humane Society of The United States recommend: leaving your pet with clothing that smells like you, not allowing for your arrivals and departures to be significant, and often ignoring your pet until they have settled down from your arrival, as well as establishing a word or action to use every time you leave your dog. Toys and treats can also be used as aids to these methods. If separation anxiety is causing the pet to harm itself, it is important to refer to a licensed veterinarian at that time to discuss a proper course of action.

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