There has been some frightening reading in the news recently that shows one in ten new puppy owners are worried about how they will care for their dogs post-lockdown, according to data released by The Kennel Club.
This is saddening reading and shows that many new dog owners have realised that having a four-legged friend comes with much more responsibility than they had anticipated.
The survey by The Kennel Club goes on to reveal that nearly a fifth of all respondents to the survey are particularly worried about the effect of lockdown on the behaviour of their new puppy and how they will react once ‘normal’ life can be resumed.
So what can be done to alleviate this pressure on new owners to make sure that we don’t end up with young dogs being sent to canine rescue centres post lockdown?
Here are 5 tips for new dog owners to help you through post lockdown dog ownership:
Enlist the help of a dog trainer – Puppies come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of temperaments. You need to really understand your puppy. One way of doing this is to find someone that can help you understand your four-legged companion. Dog trainers usually have many years of experience and have worked with many different breeds and temperaments. Using a dog trainer to help you has the added benefit of growing your own confidence and learning exactly what to do in many different situations involving your four-legged friend. Ask for recommendations from fellow dog owners, and don’t be afraid to call the dog trainer to understand their background and how they became interested in dog training.
Continue your dog walks everyday – it’s important to socialise your puppy immediately. It’s been harder to do this in lockdown but post lockdown when restrictions are lifted and we are freer to move around, it’s important to go out and about, puppy in tow, so that they get used to traffic noise, the beach, travelling in the car and young children (if you don’t have at home) so that these things become quite natural to your puppy.
Find a new dog walking friend – if you are new to dog ownership you may not know many other dog owners. There’s probably a local dog walking group that you can connect with (try Facebook for example), where likeminded dog owners walk and talk! This is a great way for your puppy to mix with other dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes so that they can get used to all different dogs, and for you to ask dog related questions. Don’t worry if you think that your questions are silly, the majority of dog owners has been through exactly what you are experiencing and will probably have some great tips and tricks for you to try.
Remember why you decided to get a dog in the first place – Often it’s easy to forget the real reason why you brought a dog home. When you are having a difficult doggy day and your puppy has decided to chew through your favourite cushion and eaten the toe of your slipper, it can feel like you have made the worst mistake ever! STOP! Take a breath and remember all the times your puppy has given you joy in the short time that you have had them, and also how much more love and fun adventures you will be able to have in a post lockdown world.
You are not alone – Dog ownership is a huge responsibility and much like having a child, you cannot really understand what it’s like to own a dog, until you have owned a dog! But you are not alone. It’s estimated that about 44% of households own a dog (that’s about 12 million of us – figures from Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association) and many have been through exactly what you are going through now. Take heart that you are not the only newly qualified dog owner that feels like you do. Search for a forum for new puppy owners, join a local dog walking group, gravitate towards your friends who are seasoned dog owners and spend quality dog time with them, just remember that things will be better. You know your dog better than anyone else and whether we are in lockdown or not, your dog still loves you, and in return, needs your love and attention.