Red Fox Labrador chewing a bone

Welcoming a new pet during COVID-19

Read tips to successfully welcome a new furry family member into your home during the COVID-19 pandemic – either a new furry foster or adopted pup.

By Dr. Katalin Grant —


Breeds + Lifestyle

Welcoming a New Pet During COVID-19  

My sister and her family recently decided to grant my niece of the wonderful privilege of pet ownership during home isolation.  After all, they thought they had plenty of time to train and raise a puppy now that they were all working and schooling from home.  The dog, whom they named Mila, was so very calm at first but before long, as with most puppies, the 8 week old fur ball became a bundle of energy and my niece couldn’t keep up with her school work while trying to care for the Mila 24/7!

My sister is now the main caretaker.  And while her family has made the commitment to keep Mila even after she returns to work, many shelters are seeing people changing their minds.  Many people don’t realize how difficult and time consuming dog ownership can be.   

If your family has made the decision to welcome a pet into your home, or are considering doing so, below are a few things to keep in mind to ease the adjustment and ensure a smooth transition.

Yellow lab inside with boy

Before You Foster or Adopt

Welcoming a new pet into your family is a big adjustment, and it’s important to consider all of the implications.  Before signing on the dotted line, consider the following:

  • If you have small children, are you comfortable that your kids will respect a dog’s boundaries?  And/or has the dog you plan to bring home spent time around children?
  • Do you have adequate time to devote to training and loving your furry family member?
  • Is your home pet friendly?

Maintain Your Routine

Just like people, dogs thrive on routine, and it is important to establish a maintainable routine from the beginning.  Set clear times that work for you and your family for feeding, walking, training and playing, so your pup knows what to expect throughout the day.  It will help your pet adjust to his or her new environment more quickly. 

It’s also important to set a routine that is maintainable post COVID-19 when you and the rest of your family may be away from the house more often.

Yellow lab inside, playing with toys

Feed Your Pet Nutritious Foods in the Right Amounts

As humans, we tend to show our love for one another – and our pets – through food.  And while its temping to give your pup an extra scoop of food or table scraps while we’re all spending more time in the kitchen, these extras can quickly lead to obesity and gastrointestinal issues.  So, while we all deserve a little indulgence once in a while, it’s important to stick to your pet’s normal feeding guidelines.

Make Treats a Challenge

One way to combat boredom is to use treats to challenge your pet.  There are all sorts of interesting and mentally challenging dog treat puzzles and dispensers available online that can be purchased inexpensively.  You can also hide a treat around your house and challenge your pup to find it.  These activities occupy your pup’s brain to keep them busy and can be continued when you may not be at home as often.

Yellow Lab outside

Exercise Your Pet

Dogs crave movement, so it’s important, even in these uncertain times, to maintain their exercise routine.  If you’re able to walk your pup outside, this is a great time to work on things like leash skills. 

If you’re not able to walk outside due to social distancing, then turn on some music or a favorite video and walk around your house.  You can also utilize your stairs by climbing up and down slowly and carefully at decent, safe pace, or set up an obstacle course in your living room and teach your pet to run through it.  Just remember that if you used to take your pup for an hour walk, then indoor exercise should be roughly the same duration.

"LiKE" Your Dog & Their Buddies

Use the acronym LKE:  be LOVING, be KIND, be ENCOURAGING to your pets and the people around them.  Speak with soft words, kind attention, gentle caring, and encourage them to play, exercise, and move.  And don’t forget to praise your pup’s good behavior!

It is so important to keep happy, positive vibes going.  When you and your dog are happy, that feeling will resonate throughout your whole family.

 -Dr. Kat Grant


For more information on your pet and COVID-19, see COVID-19 and Your Pet's Health


About the author

Dr. Katalin Grant, DVM, has 20 years of experience as a board-certified veterinarian, specializing in general and emergency medicine, surgery and dentistry. She's owned and operated five different veterinary clinics and hospitals. Through her extensive research in the areas of pet health and wellness and her work with national health organizations, Dr. Kat continues to show her deep love of animals and passion for educating pet parents on responsible pet ownership. Plus, she's a proud pet mom to 3-legged Shih-Poo mix, Sandy, and 17-year-old Maine Coon, Sushi.


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