Creating Community With Pets While Maintaining Social Distancing

Creating Community With Pets While Maintaining Social Distancing

woman with mask and cat

Social distancing should not mean isolation. Even those with the luxury of company from pets often crave human interaction for a sense of balance.

This creates a unique opportunity for rental property managers, who can help foster safe interaction with their pet-owning residents. Creating community has become a challenging task as city and state officials take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. But many property managers have established pet-centric ways for their residents to communicate.


With most property managers now working offsite or in restricted-access leasing offices, many have created groups on social media channels and leveraged property management messaging tools to communicate with residents. The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets in every home recommends these pet-related social activities to consider in the current environment:


Social distancing should not mean isolation. Even those with the luxury of company from pets often crave human interaction for a sense of balance.

 

This creates a unique opportunity for rental property managers, who can help foster safe interaction with their pet-owning residents. Creating community has become a challenging task as city and state officials take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. But many property managers have established pet-centric ways for their residents to communicate.

Create Safe Walks/Bathroom Break Opportunities

A community-wide play date at the onsite dog park simply isn’t appropriate for social distancing, but sometimes pet parks get crowded anyway. Community teams might consider developing a schedule that designates staggered times for residents to walk their pets in an effort to maximize personal space. Perhaps pet-owning residents on Floor 1 of Building A can visit the park at 10 a.m., Floor 2 at 11 a.m. and so on. This enables pet-owning residents to get their pets out while observing social distancing protocol and wearing masks when required. 


If your community doesn’t have an onsite dog park, you can modify the idea to promote other means of safe interaction through pets. Rather than a trip to the dog park, you can coordinate a bathroom-break schedule. While the pet cannot be expected to strictly comply with the schedule, this will minimize the chances of too many people from grouping together at the pet stations or pet amenities. While discouraging overcrowding, property managers can also assist by making certain residents are aware of the latest CDC pet guidelines


Offer Online Resources to Residents That Enable Pet-Related Interaction

Consider passing along online resources that promote pet-related interaction virtually. The Facebook group Dogspotting Society has more than 900,000 nationwide members and features a regular flow of threads. Users request photos on these threads of different breeds, sizes, fur colors and affable behaviors. In Los Angeles alone, several pet groups offer interaction opportunities. These include pages for rescued shelter dogs, dog training, every breed one could imagine and even a meet-up group for hypoallergenic dogs. When in-person interaction isn’t an option, you can pass along links and local resources to pet owners. It will promote pet-related discussion that can help shed the solitude.



With most property managers now working offsite or in restricted-access leasing offices, many have created groups on social media channels and leveraged property management messaging tools to communicate with residents. The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets in every home recommends these pet-related social activities to consider in the current environment:


Create Safe Walks/Bathroom Break Opportunities

A community-wide play date at the onsite dog park simply isn’t appropriate for social distancing, but sometimes pet parks get crowded anyway. Community teams might consider developing a schedule that designates staggered times for residents to walk their pets in an effort to maximize personal space. Perhaps pet-owning residents on Floor 1 of Building A can visit the park at 10 a.m., Floor 2 at 11 a.m. and so on. This enables pet-owning residents to get their pets out while observing social distancing protocol and wearing masks when required. 


If your community doesn’t have an onsite dog park, you can modify the idea to promote other means of safe interaction through pets. Rather than a trip to the dog park, you can coordinate a bathroom-break schedule. While the pet cannot be expected to strictly comply with the schedule, this will minimize the chances of too many people from grouping together at the pet stations or pet amenities. While discouraging overcrowding, property managers can also assist by making certain residents are aware of the latest CDC pet guidelines


Offer Online Resources to Residents That Enable Pet-Related Interaction
Consider passing along online resources that promote pet-related interaction virtually. The Facebook group Dogspotting Society has more than 900,000 nationwide members and features a regular flow of threads. Users request photos on these threads of different breeds, sizes, fur colors and affable behaviors. In Los Angeles alone, several pet groups offer interaction opportunities. These include pages for rescued shelter dogs, dog training, every breed one could imagine and even a meet-up group for hypoallergenic dogs. When in-person interaction isn’t an option, you can pass along links and local resources to pet owners. It will promote pet-related discussion that can help shed the solitude.


Provide Resources for Virtual Dog Training

While sheltering in place, many individuals are looking for activities to keep them occupied. For some, pet training could be the answer. Many pet owners put training on hold during the pandemic due to the social nature of the activity, but few realize that doing so from home is an option. The Dogo App, for instance, allows pet owners to teach obedience, agility, fun tricks, crate training and other skills from home. Community managers could consider passing along this information to pet owners, who just might train their dog to stop nipping or teach them to fetch during the shutdown. 


Encourage Pet Ownership or Fostering as Part of Social Distancing

Everyone reacts to isolation differently. It is therapeutic to some. Others struggle with it. Your community can help some residents escape solitude by encouraging them to consider adopting or fostering a pet. A wide variety of research from the Human Animal Bond Research institute indicates that pets provide a positive role in a person’s mental health. In fact, the research indicates that pets can reduce anxiety, depression and loneliness. 


Pets could serve an especially prominent role during the current crisis, when such emotions are more common. Community teams can assist these residents by providing a list of trusted local shelters and adoption agencies with available pets. To comply with social-distance guidelines, many shelters are currently offering no-touch adoptions. Additionally, property management teams could consider promoting pet ownership by reducing restrictions, such as weight and breed, or by offering pet-rent specials at renewal or on new leases. Friendly and positive pet agreements are always encouraged, particularly in times of crisis.

With routine social interaction currently on hold, feelings of isolation can follow suit. Through pets, property managers can help their residents escape the seclusion and create a sense of community.

Provide Resources for Virtual Dog Training

While sheltering in place, many individuals are looking for activities to keep them occupied. For some, pet training could be the answer. Many pet owners put training on hold during the pandemic due to the social nature of the activity, but few realize that doing so from home is an option. The Dogo App, for instance, allows pet owners to teach obedience, agility, fun tricks, crate training and other skills from home. Community managers could consider passing along this information to pet owners, who just might train their dog to stop nipping or teach them to fetch during the shutdown. 


Encourage Pet Ownership or Fostering as Part of Social Distancing

Everyone reacts to isolation differently. It is therapeutic to some. Others struggle with it. Your community can help some residents escape solitude by encouraging them to consider adopting or fostering a pet. A wide variety of research from the Human Animal Bond Research institute indicates that pets provide a positive role in a person’s mental health. In fact, the research indicates that pets can reduce anxiety, depression and loneliness. 


Pets could serve an especially prominent role during the current crisis, when such emotions are more common. Community teams can assist these residents by providing a list of trusted local shelters and adoption agencies with available pets. To comply with social-distance guidelines, many shelters are currently offering no-touch adoptions. Additionally, property management teams could consider promoting pet ownership by reducing restrictions, such as weight and breed, or by offering pet-rent specials at renewal or on new leases. Friendly and positive pet agreements are always encouraged, particularly in times of crisis.


With routine social interaction currently on hold, feelings of isolation can follow suit. Through pets, property managers can help their residents escape the seclusion and create a sense of community.


​ADDITIONAL CONTENT & FREE RESOURCES

​Our mission of saving pets, enriching lives is made possible by the generous 

contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson

​© 2020 MICHELSON FOUND ANIMALS FOUNDATION, INC.