Understanding the Emotional Needs of the Post-Covid Dog

Written by Laurie Yost, Mosha’s mom and owner of Playful Pups Retreat

Playful Pups Retreat is proud to be a Fear Free certified facility. Laurie also holds the highest level of certification through PACCC (Professional Animal Care Certification Council) with a CPACO certification (Certified Professional Animal Care Operator).

Rebuilding Confidence in Post-Covid Dogs

The COVID 19 Pandemic brought unprecedented challenges into our lives, and our furry companions were not exempt from its effects. As we move beyond the pandemic, we are beginning to understand the emotional toll it has taken on dogs. Many pet parents found it difficult to socialize their dogs and were unable to introduce them to new people, places or experiences during lockdowns and social distancing measures. The result?  A generation of dogs with unique needs, many of whom are timid, anxious, under-socialized, or nervous. Our new Pawsitive Experiences Program may be the answer!

Understanding the Impact on “Pandemic Pups”

The pandemic led to a surge in pet adoptions and purchases.  While this provided loving homes for many dogs, it also meant a significant number of puppies and adult dogs missed out on critical social experiences, often during important developmental stages.

For these post-COVID dogs, adapting to a world beyond their immediate family can be a daunting challenge. The lack of exposure to new people, places and other dogs can result in shyness, anxiety and even fear aggression. At Playful Pups Retreat, we have been seeing the consequences of this over the past three years with increasing numbers of dogs with anxiety and nervousness when away from home and visiting us for doggie daycare or overnight lodging services.  Many dogs are overwhelmed and nervous in our environment since is it a new and sensory stimulating place.

As pet care professionals, we are trained to understand dog behavior, stress signals and dog communication, but we know many pet parents struggle with understanding when their pup may be unhappy or overly stressed.

Recognizing Your Dog’s Emotional Health

At our facility, the emotional well-being of every dog is our priority. Our goal is to ensure every dog leaves us in better emotional condition than when they arrived. Dogs have their own language and ways of communicating with us humans, and each other.

Some stress signals to watch for that indicate your dog may be nervous or anxious in a new environment are:

  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Lip Licking
  • Yawning, this is assumed to be a sign of a dog being tired, but yawning is often a signal of uncertainty in dogs.
  • Jumping on you, often in a frantic manner
  • Excessive barking, often a high pitch frenzied bark
  • Avoidance behaviors, such as hiding, turning away, or avoiding eye contact.

If you see these behaviors, it is important to be understanding and patient and not force your dog into an uncomfortable situation. As we navigate the post-COVID era, it’s essential to address the unique emotional needs of our dogs to provide them with the best life.

Because of the growing number of dogs with anxiety and those who are timid, or lacking confidence and social skills we have collaborated with our friend and partner, Maria Stouffer from Full Potential Dog Training to develop an innovative new program called Pawsitive Experiences. This program is a fantastic starting point for helping your shy or nervous pup gain confidence and become more comfortable in new situations.  Depending on your dog’s individual needs, our training team will tailor the curriculum to meet their needs and bring out the best in your furry friend! Together, we can help our beloved pets transition from the challenging times of the pandemic to a brighter and more confident future. Learn more about the Pawsitive Experiences Program.