Frannie says, This is Ruff. It’s a New ‘Normal’, Again, for Dogs


For nearly two years, humans have been bombarded with articles and studies documenting how our pets can “save” us during quarantine. For those of us who know first hand how comforting our dog’s presence is, this is no surprise. Dogs help us ward away the loneliness of social distancing, soothe our chaotic emotions, and distract us with their cuteness.

They’ve helped us. Now it’s our turn to consider how we can help them.

With public attention consumed by talks of how and when we’ll return to ‘normal’, we should remember that our dogs will likely be in for a transition.

Like their human counterparts, each dog seems to be reacting uniquely to life in the pandemic. Many have been thriving with newfound attention from their families. Some, though, are now anxious when their housebound owners DO venture out, leaving humans worried that their dogs are regressing in their socialization.

Furthermore, for the millions of ‘pandemic puppies’ who were adopted during lockdown, quarantine life is all they know, and together with their families they may have an especially difficult time adjusting.

“A puppy’s first few months is when a lot of socialization typically happens,” says Ralph Bernstein… “A lot of dogs who were adopted during the pandemic didn’t get that, so we are seeing more new dogs come in who struggle, at first, with being part of a group. With some extra time and attention from us, they usually figure it out but it’s definitely taking longer than it did, pre-pandemic.”

Dr. Ashley Opyt of Firehouse Animal Health Center in Texas told the Austin Statesman she observes a higher number of puppies without social skills than before the pandemic.

The key to helping our pups survive the changes ahead is preparing them! We can help our pets by practicing for the eventual time when they need to be left alone more frequently, creating changes that are gradual rather than abrupt.

According to Opyt, repeated exposure to new things, new people, and other animals in a safe way can really help dogs become used to just being at home with only one or a few people during this time.

This can mean taking a short daily walk around the block without them, taking them to doggy daycare or boarding them (which can include plenty of playroom time and exercise!) for a short stint.

Whether your dog is loving life during the pandemic or eager to get some extra sleep and alone time, dogs DO need socialization and can’t understand the complexity behind all of our sudden lifestyle changes!

At Downtown Dogs, we remained open throughout the quarantine. Essential workers and work-from-home-ers relied on our expert team and carefully supervised playrooms to give their dogs a stable and fun social and exercise routine. And now more and more, as things begin to open up, we are seeing families introduce or reincorporate dog daycare into their schedules.

Whatever your dog’s needs, Downtown Dogs is here for fun, safe socialization and exercise. We even have a curbside “fetch and retrieve” option where we will come get your dog or bring them back to you, so you don’t have to leave your vehicle during these extraordinary (and cold!) times.

The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.”