Pandemic Puppies

Welcoming a new dog into your home: the case of Kate and William

There has never been a period in our history when we have all spent as much time at home as we do now, trying to stay safe and avoid COVID-19. For many, that has created feelings of isolation as we shelter in place, and even a sense of claustrophobia because there are so few places to go.

Strangely, though, these specific circumstances have also made it an ideal time to welcome a new pet into your home. People who always wanted to adopt a dog but could never find the right time, as well as those who didn’t realize they wanted an animal in their life, are becoming pet owners.

Kate Middleton and Prince William recently received an eight-month-old puppy from Kate’s brother, and all reports say they are thrilled.

There is no question that puppies and older dogs are cute and irresistible, but they also require a lot of responsibility and hands-on work. For that reason, some have decided to get cats, which also make terrific pets but are by nature more self-sufficient and don’t need the same level of care dogs do. For those who are going the canine route, there are a few things to keep in mind as you make this decision.

During this difficult time, everyone is looking for a way to make their family closer. The hope is that adding a pandemic puppy to the mix will bring everyone together. However, many times people are not aware of what they are getting into when they acquire a dog, and it can actually have the opposite effect, becoming something that generates a lot of conflict and division. It is easy to go to a pet store on a whim and scoop up an adorable ball of fur, leaving people clueless about whether or not it is going to be the right dog for them or a good fit for their lifestyle. So, what do you need to be aware of before you go down that road?

The first step is to make sure you are on the same page with the people you are going to share the dog with: your partner, your spouse, your kids, or your roommates. If one of you has always wanted to do this but the other has resisted, make sure you are both onboard before you commit. Otherwise, one of you could feel pushed into it and won’t be all in.

Once that is sorted out, consider what type of dog you want. Rather than rush, do the research. Talk about what you each would like. Do you want a big or small dog, a pure breed or a mutt; do you want to go to a breeder or a rescue organization? Make sure you are in agreement.

As you decide, consider your living space: Do you live in a small apartment on the fifth floor of an elevator building or do you have a big house with a huge fenced-in yard? Some breeds bark a lot, not ideal if you have close neighbors; others require a lot of exercise, making a yard essential.

Do you have other animals or small children? Different types of dogs have varying temperaments. Does anyone in your house have an allergy? If so, you can think about a hypoallergenic dog. If you are able to consider the variables seriously ahead of time, you have a better chance of not only getting the perfect dog for you but also being prepared once you settle on your new best friend.

The next step is determining how you will divvy up the responsibilities. Young puppies eat fairly often and have to go out quite frequently as you help them get a handle on house training. Older dogs generally eat twice a day and need to be taken on walks. Some dogs should be brushed regularly, others must be given medication.

Sometimes the work can fall to one person and become a source of resentment. Or maybe you are expecting the person to handle tasks they haven’t agreed to yet, which can become a bone of contention.

If you hope to have a bond with the dog, then it is important to decide in advance how you want to be involved in its life. Take inventory of your time and your schedule to plan how you can carry out these responsibilities.

Decide together who will do what, particularly the feeding, because that is so central to your dog’s life. Once you settle on the different roles you will each have, look to be flexible. If, for example, you usually do the morning feeding and your partner does the evening meal but you have an extra early meeting one day a week, make a plan to switch feeding roles on that day. Working together to adapt and problem solve will help guarantee a happy home.

If in the event, however, that you find yourself in over your head, know that you have options, such as reaching out to the breeder or rescue organization for the support you need. It seems Kate and William are enjoying their new puppy, and you can, too.