"TEAMWORK, DREAMWORK!" Family-Focused Dog Training After Covid-19 

Founder of Must Love Dogs Dog Training, discusses how pet ownership and dog training has changed over the last year.   

As a former D1 collegiate basketball player and 11-year veterinary consultant, Corey Engmann blended her experience as the mother of three kids into her business. “These days, with so many changes to our daily lives and schedules, we have to work as a team to get it all done!” Corey says.  

During the 2021 pandemic, pet adoption/rescue drastically increased by over 20%. There was a feeling of “If not now, when?”  With everyone at home facing new developments in the community, there was definitely a trend to add a furry member to the family. Because of this surge in new pet ownership, training your dog has become more important than ever. 

Yet interestingly, the face of training has changed. Most basic obedience skills are still critical, but with so many pet owners going back to school and work, separation anxiety is at an all-time high. COVID kept many family members at home, and our pets were accustomed to having attention and companionship 24/7. These days, it can be hard on both the dog and the pet owner to spend time apart. 

Therefore, we need to teach our pets something new: how to comfortably be alone.  

Teamwork Tip #1:  Crate Training 

Corey tells her clients to have a pattern each day where all members of the home leave for a specific amount of time, inevitably increasing the increments little by little. Our dogs need to know that we aren't abandoning them when we leave. I tell people to provide a cozy spot, whether it be a kennel or room of the home. Put in a few of their favorite things: blankets, toys, and turn on music: a popular choice is to ask your Alexa or Google to ‘Play soothing music for pets.’ The key to this is baby steps so that the dogs learn how to self soothe when we leave the house. Start with leaving them in the crate for 20 seconds, then one minute, then two, then four. Gradually increase the time until your pet is comfortable for a couple of hours. In no time, you'll be able to go out for dinner as a family and know your pup is safely resting at home. 

“We crate our dogs every time we leave the home,” Corey says.  “It’s important for us to know they aren’t getting into trouble, and it provides a comfortable, secure, and safe feeling for the dogs.” 

Teamwork Tip #2: Exercise 

As always, it's important to exercise your dog daily so that they can expel some of their anxious energy. If there are kids in the home, the responsibility to walk the dogs can be theirs, and it's a great way for them to help. During the summer months, remember to be cautious of hot pavement. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, it’s too hot for your dogs. Dog parks are also an excellent outlet for your dog to get exercise. Be sure to bring plenty of water and to keep an eye on your pet at all times. The lunch hour and weekends are usually the busiest times. If your dog is more reserved, a mid-morning trip might be best. 

Teamwork Tip #3: Doggy Daycare 

Another angle of Teamwork, Corey recommends out-sourcing your responsibility to exhaust your dog to a reputable doggy day care. There are many in the area with great reputations. “All of the tug of war and playing fetch that we do with our pet pales in comparison to the mental and physical exhaustion they get at a daycare. At the innate level, dogs want to play with other dogs. They want to wrestle, figure out the alpha, discover all the pheromones at the facility...and when they come home, they sleep for hours. It also gives the pet owner a bit of a break from having to exercise the dog. It's a win-win!” 

Training your dog is a great way to not only exhaust your dog physically, but also mentally. With daily training sessions, the bond also deepens between you and your pet. When pet owners need to go back to work, the dog needs to trust that they will come back. At the end of the day, consistent and loving training methods will ensure that your dog remains happy and comfortable, whether you're at home with them or gone for a few hours. That's the goal. 

Corey Engmann  

Owner, Must Love Dogs Dog Training  



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