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As many Americans hunker down in their homes, emerging for only essential errands or obligations, small businesses and service industries are feeling their absence where it hurts the most – in their pocketbooks.

The slowdown caused by the coronavirus containment is also affecting those who work in dog-related fields, including groomers, trainers and dog walkers, as well as those who run local pet stores and doggie day cares.

As with anything in life, this crisis too will pass. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help those who have always been ready to help your pet.

Pay it forward

To maintain social distancing, many of us are forgoing our own regular grooming, including visits to barbers, hairstylists and nail salons. (Yes, I know you can see my roots!) Similarly, many are skipping their dogs’ regular grooming sessions and nail trims.

Eventually, though, things will return to normal, and you’ll be bringing your dog back to those professionals for a much-needed spa day. So consider prepaying for some of those services now if your finances permit. It will give your groomer a much-appreciated cushion to help navigate these uncertain times.

In the same spirit, consider buying gift certificates for dog-owning friends who are celebrating birthdays or other milestones.

You can also prepay your dog walker for future walks — you know your pup will need lots of walks once this passes!

Virtual reality

Many professionals, from therapists to yoga instructors, have switched to providing sessions and classes online via video-conferencing platforms such as Skype and Zoom. Check in with your dog trainer and see if he or she is making remote classes available. After all, if you are working from or staying at home, that’s a golden opportunity to work with your dog on basic house manners or clever tricks.

If you’re tech-savvy and your dog professional isn’t, consider offering to help walk him or her through the process. Remember, we’re all at different milestones in this increasingly electronic age: What may be just a couple of easy keystrokes to you could seem insurmountable to someone who isn’t a digital native.

Shop local

Before you fire up an app and order dog supplies from one of the internet monoliths, remember to call your neighborhood pet store. Many local businesses are providing free delivery, relieving you of the stress of having to leave your home. Not only will you get what you need faster, but it will come with the satisfaction of having helped someone in your community keep their hard-earned business afloat.

Word of mouth

The best advertising is a personal recommendation. Consider posting a rave review and contact information on social media sites where you have a presence. You’ll not only be doing your favorite dog professionals a favor, but you’ll also be helping friends who might be in the market for the services they offer.

Because posts with images get much more attention than those with words only, be sure to take a photo or video of your contented pooch to accompany it. Seeing is believing!

Kindness is contagious

Monetary support aside, often what’s just as appreciated is the acknowledgment that we’re all in this together – and a positive attitude that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We may not know precisely when life will return to normal, but an upbeat reminder that that day will come might be the most-needed gesture of all.

The AKC is here to help owners with questions and concerns about COVID-19 and dogs. Find answers to your questions, plus at-home activity ideas, training tips, educational resources, and more on our Coping With COVID-19 hub.