Adopting A Dog During A Pandemic Sounds Perfect, But Is It A Good Idea? Experts Explain
It's hard to find a bright light during these dark times, but I know that for me, more than a few of my bright spots have been attributed to my rescue dog, Montana. If you're looking for a canine companion, adopting a dog during quarantine seems like the perfect solution. But is it a good idea? Is it even possible?
Apparently a lot of Americans have felt the same way, because The Los Angeles Times reported that there has been a surge of dog fostering and adoption since the beginning of the quarantine. It makes sense. If you're feeling lonely, and you have a ton of extra time on your hands, why not take that time and foster or adopt a dog? But is it a sound decision, or is it one you're likely to regret later on?
Steffi Trott, professional dog trainer and the owner and founder of SpiritDog Training, tells Romper that many shelters have put in place a system so that they might still adopt out their dogs. It will vary from shelter to shelter, so make sure that you are in contact with them ahead of time. But, even if you technically can get a pup, should you adopt a dog during quarantine? Trott says that it depends. "On the one hand, adopting now has the advantage of owners being able to spend a lot of time with their new dog, accelerating the bonding process and setting the best foundation for a great relationship." You have nothing but time, and pups are more than eager to fill it for you.
But on the flip side, Trott says, "If the new dog has any kind of issues — medical or behavioral — it will be infinitely harder to address these now than in regular times." She notes that because dog trainers aren't classified as essential businesses, if your new dog has difficult behavior issues like lots of accidents in the house or aggressive behavior towards other dogs or people, it may be much harder to get help. Basically, this is not the time for a novice to take on a challenging pet — and it's likely that these dogs won't even make the roster for adoptable pets during this period, because the last things shelters want is to have to take the dog back.
Similarly, if you've never adopted a dog before and you don't know what to expect, you might want to wait. Dogs require a lot more care than most people who have never had one would assume.
Russell Hartstein, a certified dog behavior analyst and the CEO of Fun Paw Care, tells Romper that if you can adopt a dog during this time, there are some real benefits for both the adoptee and the dog. He says that dogs and their people form a "mutual symbiotic relationship. Both people and animals are rescued and win. Comforting each other in times of need. Health, physiological, emotional and mental health improves for both species."
One thing that Hartstein stresses is that "dogs are time-intensive, not space-intensive." They require more effort than things. But, he adds that "you need resources to adopt a dog or cat. If you are out of work and don't have enough money to support yourself, do not adopt a dog." You don't need the added stress. Also, bonus: Chewy is still delivering pet essentials, and your local pet stores may offer curbside pick-up.
As a serial adopter of dogs, I have found so much joy in the process, and if I had the space, I would foster and adopt right now. Dogs speak to my soul, and my little shelter pup has truly pulled me through some dark times in the past month and a half. Dogs are wonderful — you just need to be prepared for all the labor.
Steffi Trott, professional dog trainer and the owner and founder of SpiritDog Training
Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, and the CEO of Fun Paw Care