Words by Bob Owens of Lone Duck Outfitters

For the past 39 years, October has been celebrated as National Adopt-A-Dog Month. Since 2020 has been a pretty long year for the world, we thought we’d celebrate by sharing some advice for new dog owners who have adopted pandemic pups while staying cooped up at home.

Proper Introductions Are Key

When friends and clients bring home new dogs, whether they be puppies or shelter dogs of unknown age, the first suggestion I always have for them is to create more life experiences for the dog. The more positive introductions you can have with various people, places and things, the better. This can be tougher to manage with a shelter dog because they have a portion of their life that you’re probably unaware of, so treat every experience as their first.

If it’s raining outside, then take them out and play in the rain so they have a positive experience and don’t mind going potty during a little weather. Are you taking the kids to the playground? Perfect, bring the dog, and slowly introduce them to people you trust. Try walking the dog around the park and read their body language so you’re aware of how they are feeling about each situation. By slowly introducing your dog to various experiences under controlled circumstances, you can help build confidence so they are comfortable whether the doorbell rings or the vacuum rumbles.

Pro tip: Dogs feel safe in confined areas so provide them with the proper sized dog kennel!

Instill Confidence in Your New Dog

One of the biggest areas of opportunity for people to properly coach their dog is in their confidence. Think of it like this: if you drop a toddler off at daycare for the first time, they might be timid, shy, and feel uncomfortable at first. However, after some time and slow introductions to new things, they’ll open up, run around and play with the other children. Now, let’s apply this thinking to your dog. Once you’ve built enough confidence in your dog (this is a lifelong practice) and they know they’re safe under various conditions, they’ll be relaxed, willing to sniff around, and have fun, which will make pet ownership more enjoyable on your end.

Pro tip: Once you know your dog is comfortable around strangers, bring them to a dog friendly store for more stimulation.

Your Dog Needs Real Exercise

I often hear that a dog has too much energy, even after they went for a 15-minute walk in the morning. Well, dogs are animals and most breeds typically have high energy levels and need to be exercised daily. A simple stroll on a leash once a day to go potty before you leave for work isn’t going to cut it. Your dog needs to run, swim, and burn energy. 

Remember our toddler analogy? They won’t be tuckered out after a walk around the block but they should be after climbing on the playground and running in the yard for an hour and your dog is the same. Burn away the anxious energy and let your dog run around the nearby park or swim at the local pond. Not only will this help to keep them healthy but it will also 

If you took the leap this year and brought home a new companion during the pandemic, congratulations! We think there’s no relationship like the one you develop with your dog (or in our case, dogs).

If you’re on the fence about taking the plunge — there are lots of great dogs waiting to be adopted into a loving home but you’ll need to remember that you’re signing up to do more than just provide them a roof and a meal. This is a start to a relationship, and if you give them a balanced life with confidence, exercise, and a little love, they’ll repay you with years of companionship and unconditional love.

Read more: The Science Behind a Proper Kennel Fit

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