(NC) While many initially thought COVID-19 might result in a baby boom, the extra time spent at home has actually led to a different trend – the “pandemic puppy.” Since March 2020, Canadians have used their newfound home time as an opportunity to make their families a little bigger by adopting a pet.

As the end of 2020 approaches, these cute little puppies are now growing into gangly, but equally cute, dogs. And just as with human children, when these puppies start to enter their “teenage” years, their needs change and owners need to start considering new aspects of their care.

“Even though dogs grow up faster than humans, they still go through different life phases that require owners to adapt to their changing needs,” explains Dr. Juanita Glencross-Winslow, veterinarian for pet food company Royal Canin. Below are three key things she recommends dog owners focus on when their pups are between six months and a year old.

Grooming: The type of dog you have will dictate how often they require grooming, but the sooner a dog is introduced to a routine, the more comfortable they will become with it. Not only will a groomer keep your canine looking their best, but they can also be the first line of defence against skin issues. Groomers will notice and alert you to changes to your pet’s skin and coat. If this happens, be sure to make an appointment to see your vet.

Training and socialization: During the first few months, it’s normal to chalk up bad behaviour to being a puppy. But it’s important to instill good manners and obedience early on. Puppies also need to learn how to interact with others, both people and dogs, without getting upset or overexcited. Whether you choose to join a physically distant puppy class or enlist the help of an expert, training and socialization are essential for your pup.

Independence: Your dog has been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with you over the last few months. But as adults go back to the office and kids to school, pets will once again be left alone during the day. This will be a big change for your loyal companion, so be sure to ease them into it. Start by positively encouraging them to go to their “den” or kennel where they feel safe and relaxed. Then begin leaving them at home for increasing intervals over a period of time. Be sure to leave some chew toys to help them relax and de-stress.

http://www.newscanada.com