The COVID-19 pandemic saw a pet ownership boom in 2020, with many owners becoming first-time pet parents. As vaccines are rolling out and restrictions are lifting, many new owners have begun to reconsider their decision.

According to a recent survey from Merck Animal Health, 73% of people who became first-time dog owners during the pandemic are now thinking about rehoming their pets. 58% of these owners say they wish taking care of their pet’s health didn’t take so much time, 33% were surprised how much it costs to care for a pet, and 25% claim they don’t have enough information to care for their dog.

Here’s a guide to help you successfully navigate year two and beyond of pet ownership and avoid rehoming your four-legged family member.

Preventative Care

Keep a regular veterinarian visit and vaccination schedule to help avoid chronic health issues. Your veterinary provider may have specific recommendations based on your location, lifestyle, and your dog’s individual needs. Staying on track with visits and vaccines may prevent costly future veterinary bills.

Don’t skip parasite protection. Depending on where you live, fleas and ticks can be an issue for a significant portion of the year. Additionally, puppies are at an increased risk of being exposed to intestinal parasites. Speak with your veterinary provider about medication options such as topical treatments, oral chews, or collars. Parasite protection is even more important if your pet spend significant time outdoors.


Training is an integral part of any dog’s development, and a proper routine can help build your relationship with your pet and create structure. The first three to four months are critical to a dog’s development, and most well-adjusted dogs will be well on their way to perfecting life-long positive behaviors by year one.

You will want to stay on top of your dog’s basic obedience commands to ensure they don’t get rusty. Think about enrolling in a puppy class at a local pet store or with a nearby dog trainer. Or if they’ve already mastered the basics, consider trying out dog agility or scent training courses, to help your dog channel that boundless energy in a new, fun and challenging way.


As you get back to a normal routine, you may find that you have less time to spend with your dog. This new reality could make finding time to help them exercise become seem like a hassle. Start establishing a new routine with your dog as soon as you can. Plan walks or runs before or after work, and consider a dog walking service if they’ll be home alone for long stretches of the day.

Doggie Daycare is also a great option to help your dog get their daily dose of exercise. Even just a few daycare visits per week can make a massive difference in your dog’s mental and physical health. Make sure to do your research before choosing a daycare and plan a meet-and-greet with daycare team members before your dog begins!

Back to Work

We spent a lot of time with our pets in 2020, and separation anxiety can be a real problem for them, even more so if they’ve never known pre-pandemic life.

It’s best to get a new schedule in place before you head back to work by re-establishing walk and feeding times. Gradually increase time spent in areas in your home away from your pet to adjust them to spending time alone. Keep an eye out for signs of anxiety and stress such as destructive behaviors, using the bathroom in the house, or changes in sleep patterns.

Final Thoughts

Pet ownership requires significant patience, effort, and commitment. However, with proper planning, you can ensure that your dog has a healthy, happy life and environment to thrive in even after you return to work. Remember, your pet is a member of your family, and being rehomed is not an easy transition for them. So, remember to tap into all the resources you have before considering it.