KENT COUNTY, Mich — Dog trainers across West Michigan are trying to keep up with the increased demand for their services during the pandemic.
Many people rushed to adopt a rescue, or add a new puppy to the family last spring as Covid-19 restrictions set in.
"I think a lot of people were thinking I'm home now, I've got time to be with a dog. I've got time to spend with a dog, and therein lies some of the issues that started in some ways," said Kristie Swan, owner and head trainer at A Dog's Life GR. "Business has been crazy, it's been very very busy... our classes are pretty much filling by wait list before we even get them posted."
Some new owners may not have realized the work needed to train a dog; others may need help training their dog to curb separation anxiety as they head back to work in an office.
"Now the dog is not used to being home alone, so that's another issue that we've had to help people with," explained Randy Adams, owner of Adams K-9 in Hudsonville. "Dogs are pack animals, they want to be with you, they don't understand being separated from you."
Training classes are also needed to help with socialization.
Adams said it's something many dogs desperately need after being largely at home during the pandemic.
"Sometimes they may be fearful of strangers, fearful of other dogs, just fearful of environments, because they've been at home for two, three months, and didn't get out to experience all these things," he said.
Both Adams and Swan said it's best to start thinking ahead and book early.
For instance, Swan said her private classes are booking out by three to four weeks; while Adams said his puppy classes for April have already been booked for two weeks.