by Sandy Maxwell

It’s a great time to adopt a new pet! As people find themselves at home with more time on their hands, pet adoptions are skyrocketing.  As a former administrator for a dog rescue, I am both excited and slightly anxious about this news. Are adopters thinking it through?

I’ve heard it countless times: “I’d love to have a pet but I work all day and they’d be alone.” It can be tricky to navigate the needs of a pet around a work schedule, along with everything else that life can throw at you. 

With the timeline of a return to normalcy being uncertain, I’m hoping that no one is taking on a new pet as a distraction or to alleviate boredom without considering the long-term responsibility.

Dogs crave structure and leadership. With more people working from and staying at home, it would seem we have all the time in the world to bond with a new pet. But though we might find our days kind of structureless and free, dogs need a routine for their mental health. Feeding at the same time of day, regular walks and a predictable bedtime are very important for your dog. Even if you’re tired, lethargic or having a tough day, your dog still needs love, attention and playtime. 

You’re home… for now. Even the most well-behaved dogs can show signs of stress when things change. Suddenly being left alone during a workday could be borderline traumatic. Your dog doesn’t know where you are! He’s scared and confused. Separation anxiety can cause dogs to present new behaviors. They may bark and howl all day, chew up your couch or floors, and forget their potty training. The stress can cause mental or physical problems. 

Even though you’re at home right now, letting your dog spend some daily time in a crate with a chew toy or treat can be a great way to ease into the possibility of being alone once things change. Teach your dog that the crate is their “special space” where they can relax and feel safe. Crating should not be used as a “time-out” or punishment. They might not like it at first, but putting in the work now will make it easier in the long run should you need to leave your pet at home for extended periods of time. 

Read more: Eternal Paws offers memorial services for your pets

The Extra Expense. Toys, leashes and other accessories are part of the initial cost of owning a dog. Food is the primary ongoing expense. However, new pet owners have to consider whether they can afford vet bills if a health problem occurs. Genetic health issues can be hidden in puppies, and when you find out your new family member has a chronic condition, the commitment to keeping them well should be honored no matter the cost. Even healthy pets should have regular checkups and be kept up to date on vaccinations! Pet insurance is a great option to consider, and can save you money in the long run.

The love of a pet is one of the greatest joys in life. Being prepared and informed is not only the key to a successful relationship, but it keeps pets from being returned to shelters when things don’t go exactly as planned. Give your furry family member unconditional love and commitment, and you will be rewarded immeasurably!

Sandy Maxwell is the bar manager at Pavona’s Pizza in Northwest Akron. She loves beer, whiskey, kayaking and pretentiously complicated progressive metal. 

Photo: Sandy Maxwell with a dog she once fostered

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