Train Your Dog While Hunkering Down at Home

by Louise Sundin

The last time I tried to teach my dog” tricks”, I took her to a pro for “obedience training”.  The training was more for me than Zoey, a Schnauzer/black lab mix.  (She and her brother were found as puppies in a window well at our union office.)  We failed and became obedience training dropouts.  I wish Zoey were still around so I could try it again.


“Social distancing” is now the challenge for both dog and master. Things that worked from a dog-centric position before, now also apply to humans.  Social distancing for dogs has been a must since “dog walking” became common.  Dogs need to be controlled so they do not interact too closely with other dogs - that’s canine social distancing.


And now we find out that the first dog has contracted the coronavirus, presumably from his human family.  He is a pug who survived but the virus experts at the CDC have now made it official that dogs, too, should use social distancing when you walk and should not interact with other dogs at a dog park or in the neighborhood.  The symptoms looked like sneezing, not coughing, but the owners could tell their pet was very ill.  Still no record of animals giving the virus to humans, only the other way around


One of the local meteorologists recently said that his little family dog was exhausted.  Seems that every member of the family – adults and several kids included – we taking the short-legged pooch on separate long walks every day to get out of the house.  They were wearing him down literally and figuratively.


Dog owners always maintain a commitment to cleanliness and to distance from other dogs in order to avoid passing canine viruses like kennel cough; this now applies to human viruses as well.  One of the “tricks” on our block is for both dogs and owners to cross the street when they see another pair coming towards them—distance needed for both species.  As far as cleanliness, there are professional ‘pooper scooper’ businesses if you can’t force yourself to clean up the yard now that the snow and ice have melted revealing the whole winter’s-worth of mess.


This may be the perfect time to focus on the idea that our dogs don’t understand we are in a pandemic – but they still need activity and training. You can use this “down time” at home to do more work with your dog(s).  They are wonderful emotional support as well as comforting companions.  Petting and snuggling with your dog lowers your blood pressure and anxiety.  Be happy you have such a loving roommate.

And, if you want a short-term roommate that comes with a pre-nup and no expectations of lifetime commitment, all the shelters are looking for foster homes to temporarily house a pet.  More pets are on their way from other states to be rescued, housed, and adopted into forever homes.  Call the shelter near you to see if they need a foster home for a while.  The number of the Animal Humane Society with locations in Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, St. Paul and Woodbury is

Just sayin’.


Louise Sundin

4-20 Retiree Bulletin Louise's Dog
Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 1.55.19 PM.png

For many of us, working from home or following ‘Stay Home Executive Orders’ means having furry co-workers or co-couch potatoes.  Since their people have less to do and fewer places to be, dogs get more attention than ever.  What a good time to start, continue, or upgrade your dogs’ education!  Call it “home schooling” like they do in education circles. 

Go ahead, challenge the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  After all, we are “old dogs” ourselves.  Will hunkering down in our homes require us to learn any new tricks?  Like not snarfing down a ‘treat’ on every walk through the kitchen?  Or the Gov’s Executive Order trick -- “SIT and STAY” at home.