Dog Trainers’ Association: There’s Still Help for Dog Owners During COVID-19

Trainers offering phone and online services during “Social Distancing”

 Canadian dog owners can still find safe training help for their pooches, despite stay-at-home calls from officials during the COVID-19 crisis.

 “The fact that pet dog owners are, appropriately, staying home at this time doesn’t mean their pet problems will go away or will wait until we return to normal,” said Helen Prinold, Chair of the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers (CAPDT).

 “We’ve issued a challenge to our members across the country to find ways to deliver services by remote – whether interactive online classes and videos or offering phone consults for some training needs.”

Recommendations and orders from health officials regarding being in public are changing daily. CAPDT advises pet owners to keep at least three weeks of food and any prescription medicines on hand for your pet, and to look for ways to challenge pet brains (such as online training) and enrich their days with fun activities within “Social Distancing” limitations.

Unless stay-at-home recommendations change, the Association reminds owners of puppies 8-14 weeks of age that they should NOT keep them at home to avoid exposure. During this critical socialization time, puppies should get out in the world and see a variety of people and vehicles and situations, while maintaining safe social distances.  This is a more thorough article on socializing your new puppy despite coronavirus.

For people whose dogs are now seeing more of them than before, we encourage you to take a walk daily without your dog, as well as daily and randomly stepping out of your front door and returning a few minutes later.  This may help prevent separation anxiety when you return to work (although there is yet no science to support this theory).  If your dog has previously experienced separation anxiety that was changed through training and behaviour modification, along with medication, we suggest you speak to your veterinarian about medication to help your dog readjust to their "new normal".  What we do know that as household routines change and your own stress increases (perhaps due to finances) your dog senses and is affected by that increased stress.  Maintaining a regular routine, taking family arguments outside, spending time doing positive reinforcement based activities (for example, scent games) or simply spending time calmly and slowly petting your dog can help increase fun and predictability  - as well as decrease stress.

For dog owners seeking training support or enrichment ideas for their pets, CAPDT recommends searching online at locally for member dog trainers offering telephone or online services and checking our website under “education” on the menu.

Independent dog training businesses are following public health requests that all Canadians should stay home.  Their businesses have closed and they - like you - have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to reopen.  We encourage you to read our April 21st open letter to the Prime Ministers and Premiers.

As facilities re-open, we would also ask dog owners attending classes to take care for the health and safety of their fellow clients and the dog trainers providing service to them.  Our members are developing new sanitation practices and expect you to do your part by informing them (and not attending classes) if you are showing signs of COVID-19. 

We have developed a poster that we expect many dog trainers will put up outside their location (along with others for inside).  Even if a dog trainer comes to you - please make sure to follow these guidelines.  Wear a mask to reduce the possibility of transmission and expect your trainer to also wear personal protective equipment.  Together we can continue to stay safe!  Dog groomers and their clients across the country are encouraged to follow the recommendations released in April by New Brunswick.