LONG BEACH, Calif. – One upside of the coronavirus pandemic has been seen at animal shelters across the country, which have been cleared out through adoptions and pet fostering while people stay-at-home.
But the widespread shutdowns have left some new pet-parents at a loss for how to train their new furry family members.
Rosa Larios is one new pet parent, who adopted a puppy named, 'Yoli.'
“Yeah, you need a lot of work with a puppy,” said Larios.
Yoli came into Larios’ life in March when the pandemic caused animal shelters and organizations to shut down, including Angel City Pitbulls. Larios volunteered to foster then 2-month-old Yoli.
“[Yoli] had a lot of medical conditions that weren’t comfortable for her to be at a shelter,” said Larios.
After treatment, Yoli healed and was ready to be adopted. But there was one issue.
“I fell in love with her,” said Larios.
Yoli has become very comfortable at her new home in Long Beach.
“There’s a lot of pee accidents. So, I did want to seek out some help,” said Larios.
Larios started thinking about hiring a puppy trainer or maybe finding a class.
“I was like, 'How the heck am I going to do that with COVID?' But I luckily did research and came upon the Zoom Room,” said Larios.
Zoom Room is usually an on-site only dog training facility, but during the stay-at-home order the company went online and now offers virtual dog trainings. It is done through 30-minute one-one-one video conferencing sessions.
Zoom Room has nine locations participating in virtual dog trainings nationwide and has done 754 remote live-training sessions. In California, 535 remote live-training sessions have been held since the pandemic hit.
Victoria Seanoa is a head trainer for several locations, including Belmont, Culver City, and Redondo Beach.
“When they first get a puppy, they go through puppy panic. They’re like, ‘Oh no what did I get myself into,’” said Seanoa.
Seanoa says the panic applies to all new dog parents and there are a lot right now. A nationwide shelter software program called PetPoint shows animal fostering and adoptions are up 700 percent over last year. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles reports a 70 percent increase in animals going into foster care.
“They have all the same questions,” said Seanoa.
She says while nothing beats in-person training, online training does have benefits, such as offering a view into the dog’s new home environment. Online video conferencing training also provides new ways to train
“Some people have even taken me on their walks. They have me on their phone,” said Seanoa.
Back in Long Beach, Yoli is working on “stay” right now. She has already learned how to sit, pound it, and lay down.
Larios hopes the lessons can help Yoli prepare for when things return to some sort of normal, especially when she can’t personally be around 24/7.
“She’s a puppy and all she’s used to is COVID at this point,” said Larios.
For now Larios plans to continue with the virtual lessons,