2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and with all the love and laughter they bring, it’s no surprise that many have been tempted to get a dog. But as we look to the future after the pandemic, there is growing concern about the welfare of these so-called ‘pandemic puppies’ and the impact they could have on dog rescue centres.
Since the first national lockdown in March 2020, interest in buying and adopting dogs has risen sharply – so much so that the google search ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 166%! High demand has pushed dog breeders to charge inflated prices, prompting many people to turn to their local dog rescue centres who have done their best to keep rehoming during this challenging time.
The staff and volunteers at dog rescue centres are thrilled that so many people have adopted needy dogs, pledging to love and care for them and keep them safe from harm. No matter the reason for them ending up at a shelter, abandoned dogs have been through so much stress and trauma. It’s always a huge win when a new owner is found and a dog goes to their forever home.
In most cases, that will be the end of the story. A happy ever after. But these are strange times and nobody really knows what’s coming next – especially for the pandemic puppies.
So if you’re considering getting a dog right now, remember that a dog isn’t just for lockdown, Christmas or for our convenience. It’s for life!
Is Now a Good Time to Get a Dog?
Staff and volunteers at dog rescue centres and animal welfare charities are concerned that people are buying or adopting dogs on a whim and not thinking about the long-term consequences. There is a very real possibility that more dogs will be abandoned as the pandemic progresses, leaving dog rescue centres struggling to cope.
One concern is that many pandemic puppies will be surrendered to shelters because of financial pressure and uncertainty. Dogs are a huge financial commitment; they need food, equipment and animal insurance and vet bills are expensive. For many people, Covid-19 has brought about real financial hardship, and with the economy in turmoil, the situation will likely worsen before it gets better. The fear is that new dog owners will find themselves unable to financially support their pup, leaving them no choice but to surrender them in the future.
There is also the question of time. New dog owners are urged to think about life after Covid, when they can work in the office, get their social life back on track and start going on trips abroad. Will a dog fit into their life when everything goes back to ‘normal’? When they’re back at work from 9-5, what impact will that have on their dog? What if they like to travel a lot for work or leisure – will the dog cope with being left in the care of others?
Are you Puppy Prepared?
Dog abandonment is heartbreaking for a pup and its owner, but it’s mostly avoidable. Getting a dog during the pandemic will create some additional challenges, but with the right preparation and research, you can give yourself and your dog a much bigger chance of success.
Do your research
Before you commit to rescuing a dog, ensure that you understand your responsibilities as an owner. Every breed is different, so you should do as much research as you can about a dog’s specific needs to help you make a good decision.
You should also find out about the rescue centre you are planning to adopt from and speak to past rescuers if possible. Remember, it’s not as simple as choosing a dog from a cute picture online and collecting it; rescue centres should be able to match you with a dog that is well suited to you and your lifestyle. The centre should tell you all about a dog, including their background, temperament, behaviour and individual care needs.
The soaring demand for pandemic puppies has encouraged more irresponsible and unethical breeding practices. We would strongly encourage you to adopt instead of shop, but if you do decide you want to buy a dog, only buy from a reputable breeder, always ask to see the mother and breeding environment and make sure you are shown relevant health certificates.
Caring for a dog isn’t cheap, so make sure you are ready for the financial commitment before bringing a pup into your life. Veterinary bills are very expensive, so it is recommended that you take out animal insurance for emergencies. You will need to have your dog vaccinated, dewormed and checked on a regular basis to keep them in tip-top condition, and some breeds need regular grooming.
Covid-19 has put a lot of pressure on people financially; some jobs aren’t as stable as they once were and the economy is likely heading in a downwards spiral. If there is any risk that you will not be able to afford your dog in the coming months and years, you really shouldn’t adopt one now, no matter how tempting it may be.
Time to spare
Instead of only considering the here and now, think ahead and look to the future. Just because you are prepared to care for a dog during the pandemic, will you be able to when it’s over?
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, one of your number one considerations should be time. How much time can you spend helping your dog settle in? How much time can you dedicate to training it? Will you have time to play with it and take it for walks?
You may be working from home right now or you might even be furloughed, so you have plenty of time to spend with your new furry friend. But ask yourself this: will you have enough time in your life for your dog once you return to the office? What about when your social life resumes and you start making trips away? Will your dog be left on its own at home for long periods of time?
Remember, dogs need regular exercise as well as time to play and explore their surroundings. You might have lots of time right now to take your dog on long walks – after all, it’s a great opportunity for you to enjoy some fresh air during lockdown – but when you’re back to your regular working hours, will you have time to walk your dog?
Preparing a Pup for Post-Pandemic Life
If you’ve done your research and you’re confident you can give a pup a brilliant new life – even after the pandemic – then this is amazing news. There are so many dogs in need around the UK waiting patiently for a caring human to enter their lives, so what you are doing is a wonderful thing!
As a responsible dog owner, there are lots of ways you can prepare your new pup for post-pandemic life and avoid running into any problems further down the line.
Avoiding separation anxiety
When the pandemic has finally passed and dog owners head back to work, there’s a real risk that dogs that aren’t used to being apart from their beloved human will start to exhibit behavioural issues. Undesirable behaviour, such as barking and biting, can easily be prevented and fixed, but problems like these are top of the list for why dog owners abandon their dogs.
To prevent your pup from developing separation anxiety, give the following ideas a try:
- Increase the time you spend away from your pup slowly. This should be a gradual process so your dog doesn’t get distressed.
- If you’re working from home, try working in a separate room to your dog for a few hours a day.
- Try to leave your dog at home when you go on essential outings, such as popping to the shop or the post office.
- Make sure your dog has their own comfy area where they can rest undisturbed.
- Toys can provide dogs with hours of fun, so make sure your pup has plenty to keep them entertained.
Socialising pandemic puppies
Social distancing and isolation affects all of us, including young dogs. While they love being able to spend lots of quality time with their owner, dogs also like to meet and interact with other two and four-legged creatures. Socialisation allows dogs to grow in confidence, develop good behaviour and understand how to act around others.
Here are some tips to help your dog socialise during the pandemic:
- Go for regular walks around your neighbourhood when your puppy has been vaccinated. This will expose them to lots of interesting sights and noises, such as cars, bikes, prams, bin lorries and postal workers.
- If they haven’t already been, you can get your pandemic puppy ready for the vets by practising daily handling. Regularly examine their eyes, mouth, teeth and paws so the first visit to the vet doesn’t alarm them.
- Take your puppy outside to public areas if you can. Reward them for sitting calmly, watching other people and dogs.
- Take your puppy for outings in the car so it doesn’t overwhelm them in the future.
- If your pup does interact with others, make sure you stick to all the advice about hand-washing and hygiene.
For more general advice about how to look after your dog during the pandemic, take a look at our article written by a qualified vet.
Pandemic Puppies: The Impact on Dog Rescue Centres
With the pandemic putting a temporary hold on their fundraising activities, many rescue centres are experiencing a lot of financial stress. If a large number of pandemic puppies are abandoned or returned to the shelter they came from, it will place unimaginable pressure on centres that are trying their best to continue their wonderful work in these tough times.
While everyone here at DoggyLottery is eagerly awaiting the end of the pandemic, we are fearful that more dogs will be abandoned and the ever-increasing strain on shelters will grow. That’s why it has never been more important to support the amazing work of dog rescue centres, and you can too by playing our fun weekly lottery!