Time for Pandemic Puppies to Learn How to Be Alone
For dog walkers, all of this uncertainty has turned scheduling into a Tetris game, with customers calling on a Sunday evening and asking for a Monday walk or just needing irregular grooming. While their needs may be contradicting, they often want their pets to last and ask for the same walker every time. “It’s really hard for us to say, ‘This person is available for all of your needs,’ because that’s just not realistic,” said Dani Pedraza, owner of Big City Woof Walker, a dog walking service based in New York City and Chicago operates. “It’s hard for them to understand.”
Ms. Pedraza said she occasionally had to cancel walks due to a staff shortage, which had never happened before the pandemic. On the other hand, customers have got used to living in a world where goods and services don’t always arrive on time. They’re more patient than they were before the pandemic, when many would call if a walker was even a minute late.
Once the dogs are out of the house, their new carers struggle with a generation of puppies with dubious social skills. Born into a locked up world, many of them missed opportunities for socialization. If no one ever knocks on the door, how should a dog know not to lose his mind if a stranger walks into his empty apartment, puts a leash around his collar, and teases him with a dozen other hyped pups? Ms. Pedraza said that one of her strollers recently left an apartment because the dog kept barking and growling.
If 2020 dog trainers were inundated with new owners hoping to teach their pups basic manners, 2021 will be about teaching them not to melt down when everyone is leaving. Lone puppies destroy baseboards, couches and bark so incessantly that the neighbors call to complain.
“People who don’t even know their dogs are separation anxiety will walk for eight hours in September and their dogs will freak out,” said Holly Santana, training director at Dog Done Good, a Westchester dog trainer.
People are concerned too. Dog day care centers are taking more midday calls from concerned owners asking to see photos and videos of their pets playing. “People are a lot more scared than the pets,” said Ms. Isenstein of Camp Canine. “A lot of the dogs are puppies so they are excited to play with other puppies. You come in and just have a ball. “
A few weeks ago, Grace Townsend, who lives in Jersey City with her boyfriend and her seven-month-old Portuguese water dog Cheerio, was in Hoboken for a friend’s birthday party. They left Cheerio in her box and spent most of the time worrying about whether she was okay. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, the cake is still not out, should I go?’ I feel guilty, ”said Ms. Townsend, an executive assistant at Harry’s, a razor brand. “You come home and of course she is totally fine.”