Ms. Brown and Mr. Powell met with Melanie Benware, a local trainer and the president of the International Association of Canine Professionals. “People are going out less,” Ms. Benware said, “therefore their dogs are not being exposed to as many people, dogs, sights and sounds.” She taught the couple how to train Hopper to respond calmly to other dogs. “He’s gotten better, but he’s still a work in progress,” Ms. Brown said.
The issue of limited social interaction is pervasive right now. “I find that my clients are struggling to find socialization opportunities for their puppies,” said Kim Roche, a dog trainer and behavioral consultant in Austin, Texas. “The length of a standard leash is exactly six feet, and this discourages Covid-cautious people from allowing their puppies to greet strangers in public places.” Ms. Benware recommends buying a 20-foot leash for this very purpose.
Other puppy-specific problems have emerged. “It’s difficult to pay attention to a Zoom meeting when there is a puppy trying to climb into one’s lap,” Ms. Roche said. She teaches puppies to retreat to a designated place on command — say, an exercise pen, a mat or a bed — where they can settle down with a toy.
Crate training is key, too, said Jesus San Miguel, the owner of Canine Perspective, Inc., in Chicago. “Owners are not utilizing a kennel, thinking since they’re home all the time it’s not needed, but it is critical to both the potty training process and for the puppy to have a safe space when left unattended,” he said.
Finally, it’s important to make sure puppies get enough sleep: 18 to 20 hours, according to Ms. Chillari. “Puppies get grumpier when they’re tired, just like children, and I think people assume the training isn’t working because the puppies really just need to sleep,” she said.