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Etiquette describes the requirements of behaviors according to the conventions of society. This includes proper conduct that is established by a community for various occasions in everyday life.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to alter some form of basic conduct. We stopped hugging and shaking hands when greeting each other and had to socially distance ourselves from one another. These changes also affected our dogs and cats’ lives as well. They have gotten used to being walked or fed at different times of the day and had less visits to their groomers or daycare. Visits to veterinarians have been altered and owners have been unable to accompany their dogs or cats into an exam room.

A lot of people got new dogs during the pandemic for comfort and company. There are always challenges when getting a new dog, especially for the first time, but getting one during a pandemic brought up a new set of issues: How do you get a dog well behaved with proper training and socialization if you‘re told you can’t go anywhere or be around anybody?

During this time, it has also reinforced what we should have known before: Both you and your dog should practice proper hygiene and good manners.

While it hasn’t been proven that dogs can readily spread COVID-19 to other humans, some people may still be apprehensive about strangers or dogs approaching them or their dogs during this time. The good news is that more and more people are getting vaccinated, therefore relaxing these tensions.

Regardless, some of the etiquette we should continue post-COVID, includes continuing to wash our hands after touching people, places, pets, and respecting other people’s space. COVID taught us that taking the proper precautions to keeping ourselves healthy is just as important to curb the spread of disease to others in our family and community.

As we are seeing the numbers of COVID infections drop in humans who are vaccinated, we should be reminded to keep our pets up to date on their vaccination schedules as well. This is in order to reduce or eliminate the possibility of them getting other contagious canine illnesses, such as Distemper, Parvovirus, and Rabies, and to prevent the spread in our communities as well. We should also be reminded that keeping our pets on Heartworm medication prevents them from getting heartworm and becoming a vector that allows mosquitos to bite them and spread the disease to other dogs.

We have learned that socially distancing in a pandemic is one of the best things to do for our health, but it may not necessarily be the best thing when you have a new puppy or dog that needs to be “socialized”. Because of this, we’ve seen a lot of happy yet rowdy dogs and frustrated but well-meaning owners, which has increased the need for trainers and training classes throughout the country.

One helpful resource to help with training is the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. The CGC is a two-part training course that has been the model for training classes around the country and in many parts of the world. The program is based on mastering ten basic skills (or manners) that will help instill confidence and good manners in your dog, both in and out of your home.

Not only does CGC training create long-lasting trust between you and your pup, but also ensures you’ll be good neighbors and friends to everyone around you.

If you’re interested in going beyond the basics, CGC also lays the foundation gateway course for other AKC sports and activities like obedience, agility, tracking, and performance events and therapy dog. To learn more about the CGC program and how to get started, visit AKC.org.