Animal welfare charities in the UK are concerned they may find themselves dealing with ‘hordes’ of unwanted dogs after the lockdown ends, as puppies bought or adopted immediately before it came into effect are at risk of being under-socialised and unable to cope with their owners being away from home for work.
Dogs Trust previously underlined the issue by temporarily changing their famous slogan to ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown‘.
In 2019, 81 dogs under 18 months old were handed over to Blue Cross as owners “could no longer cope with the behavioural issues”
Despite lockdown, there remains a high number of puppies available to buy online with over 400 adverts placed daily. Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs at Blue Cross, says, “We are keeping a close eye on adverts for puppies being sold online and it seems breeders and sellers are taking advantage of people looking for a pet during lockdown as prices have soared.
“With more travel allowed we fear that now, and in the future, more people may be tempted to buy new pets from unscrupulous sellers.”
In 2019, 81 dogs under 18 months old were handed over to Blue Cross as owners “could no longer cope with the behavioural issues”. The charity fears that with puppies in lockdown this figure could soar.
“Usually, new puppy owners would socialise their pet by meeting lots of people, attending puppy classes and exposing them safely to a wide range of situations and environments – all almost impossible under lockdown,” a Blue Cross statement reads.
“Without these key experiences, training and guidance from a young age, puppies can develop behavioural problems as adult dogs and Blue Cross is concerned many will become abandoned by the time they reach adolescence if their owners cannot cope with their ‘bad’ behaviour.”
In an attempt to help owners socialise and prepare their dogs for the world outside, Blue Cross is video advice during lockdown to “help young pets grow into confident, happy adult dogs”.
Claire Haynes, Blue Cross Animal Behaviourist, is fostering Chihuahua puppy Akira during lockdown and presents the new vlog series.
She says, “It is vital to prepare a puppy for adult life both inside and outside the home. For a happy, confident adult dog, owners need to introduce them to all sorts of places, people and other animals – especially now we can take them on new adventures and days out further afield.”
The advice is backed by TV presenter Chris Packham and Capital radio DJ Lauren Layfield. Help featured in the vlogs includes:
- Socialising puppies indoors during lockdown and beyond
- Preventing separation anxiety before owners return to work
- Recall training for off the lead trips to parks and beaches
- Basic training
- Mouthing and how to stop it
- Getting used to all the smells, surfaces and noises within the home
- Being handled by the vet
- When it’s time for bed at night
Claire adds, “If you are planning on taking your puppy on a day trip make sure they are already used to travelling in the car and avoid a lengthy long journey if they have only been on short trips. Make sure you have plenty of clean water for them, if they aren’t vaccinated don’t let them run about and never leave them in the car alone – even for a short time.”
More vlogs will be uploaded here. For pet behaviour advice during lockdown, you can contact the Blue Cross team on 0300 777 1975.