Truffle the two month old English Springer Spaniel puppy plays at its new home on July 20, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for new puppies have made sales of new puppies go through the roof! Thousands of people have turned to our favourite "fluffy" friend to give us a welcome cuddle at home.

In their first few months of life, dogs need socialization around other dogs and people, a behavior expert says. (James D. Morgan / Getty Images)

Pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020 gave many people who believed they didn’t have time for pets the push they needed to adopt.

But with many offices haltingly bringing employees back and vacations in full swing, pet owners and people who work with dogs are starting to grapple with animals’ separation anxiety and other problems.

Nihcole Adams, a dog walker and sitter in Castaic, has had an uptick in new clients who are also new to dog ownership. She’s been fielding requests for walks, feedings and boardings. But some pets she’s taking in are struggling with being alone or socializing with other dogs.

Adams recently boarded a 5-month-old Lhasa Apso, Brody, for a week. The owners were worried Adams would call them to pick up their dog because he wouldn’t do well with the other pets. But when they picked the puppy up at the end of the week, they were surprised at his progress — Brody just needed to practice being in a social setting.

“Dogs who are isolated or not socialized prior to 16 weeks of age are more likely to develop behavior problems later on,” Rachel Malamed, a veterinary behavioral specialist, said.

The stakes are serious. Malamed said behavior problems are a leading cause of relinquishment and euthanasia.

But the new pet owners Adams works with are passionate about getting help for their dogs. It’s just that many don’t know where to start or what resources are available.

Seeking help from a qualified professional early on can help keep pets in the home, improve pet welfare and repair the human-animal bond, Malamed said.

Depending on your pup’s situation, you can

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