Consider Virtual Dog Training for Your Pandemic Puppy

Consider Virtual Dog Training for Your Pandemic Puppy
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Even though new pet owners may now be able to spend all day with their dogs, Ms. Wohl urges recent fosters and adopters to work on boundaries right away. It’s important to occasionally physically distance from your dog, at times, in another room. Just 10 minutes apart can help the dog learn to self-soothe. Also spend time getting the dog used to different stimuli: grass, street grates, loud noises, different people (from afar). Teaching the dog to “sit” and “wait” for dinner instills impulse control and the pecking order of the house.

“Training in general, whether it’s teaching them to stay in a spot or wait for a treat, exercises their brain and wears them out,” said Ms. Wohl.

The internet is full of free training resources such as Austin Pets Alive!’s YouTube channel and Instinct Dog Behavior and Training’s online school. Rescue organizations are usually happy to offer guidance on integrating foster and recently adopted dogs into their new homes. And many private dog trainers have responded to stay-at-home orders by moving their business to digital platforms like FaceTime and Zoom. Consultations start at around $150.

Abigail Arnold-Ochs, 35, restarted training with No Problem! Dog Training virtually while sheltering in place. Monte, one of her two dachshund mixes, who had already gotten her a warning for his barking, had regressed with the uptick in deliveries to her apartment building in Santa Monica, Calif.

In the first session, Ms. Arnold-Ochs was reminded to give Monte treats when they hear footsteps to desensitize him to noise, and to redirect his focus with commands like “go to bed” and “down” to help him relax. They have made substantial progress through their quarantine sessions, she says: “What’s needed is way more apparent when you’re stuck in the house with them 24/7.”

Without training, Ms. Delgado said, she wouldn’t have been able to work through Bolt’s rambunctious behavior — and form a deep bond with him in the process.

This week, the Delgados officially adopted Bolt, and changed his name to Caspian after Prince Caspian of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. Practicing soccer with the playful puppy has become the highlight of Ms. Delgado’s quarantine. “If I could keep the ball away from him, I’d be like World Cup level,” she says.

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