Dog dangers as lockdown eases
says it has recently had numbers of puppies handed in by owners who don't feel they can look after them. Animal shelters are seeing older puppies with behavioural issues being handed in by frustrated owners, and pet sales websites are filling up with listings for puppies being resold.
According to a Kennel Club survey, as many as a fifth of puppy buyers do no research beforehand - and more than a third of puppy buyers take just 20 minutes or less to decide where to get their dog from. Of those puppies bought in 20 minutes or less, almost 15% will experience "illness, ongoing veterinary treatment or death in the first six months - three times higher than the rate for puppies chosen with more time". There are many different, high standards that make a breeder "responsible" - but at the core of these is that responsible breeders work to preserve and improve their specific dog breed, not to make a huge profit.
Another problem has been training puppies and young dogs. In the rush to produce cash, some breeders have short cut the socialisation period dogs need with their litter at the start of life, as well as providing the basics of training. New owners have told New Forest trainers that they can’t find classes due to COVID.
“There are many options available and even in lockdown it’s possible to access good training resources, with the majority of local training clubs formatting online puppy courses and running classes by Zoom,” says Kate Anderson, a Committee Member of the New Forest Dog Owners Group, who is also a professional trainer. “But without training and thinking about socialisation these dogs and owners are struggling now. Even worse, they will suddenly find themselves out and about in a totally different world to that of lockdown. Basic skills such as recall are key to responsible dog ownership and I worry that many young dogs haven’t been able to be trained properly around distractions”.
Another issue is that once lockdown ends, many owners may return to work, leaving behind dogs which have become used to having the family at home.
“All the extra attention dogs have received from having their owners and families around can lead to problems of separation anxiety for our dogs,” says Kate Anderson. “Owners can take action now to help avoid future problems. If an owner is concerned that their dog may suffer with separation related anxiety, please contact a trainer or behaviourist now. Make a plan of action to lessen the worry for when the dog is left alone. Whilst government guidelines do not currently allow in person training, most trainers are still consulting via Zoom or similar.”
Resources which may help include
For further information please ring David Bennett, NFDOG’s communications member, on 01590 623077.