Advice for new puppy owners from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder

There are many puppies which have already been born or conceived, and they will need loving homes, just as any puppy needs and deserves, as well as preparation for the return to ‘normal life’.

I’ve had several phone calls saying it would be a great time to have a puppy. Whilst a puppy might seem like a good distraction, and they certainly do provide massive stress relief, love and cuddles, today’s situation is far from ideal to raise a puppy to become a well-adjusted adult dog - they will need an extra hand on their way. Puppies will help us through this uncertain time, and we need to help them too!

Due to the current climate, many vets are only offering emergency treatment and there will be less opportunities to properly socialise a puppy. Extra effort and commitment will be required from both owners who have just got a puppy in the last month or so, as well as breeders who may need to keep their puppies for a little longer than usual.

The first weeks and months of a puppy’s life is vital to its development, so here’s some practical advice and tips to help with this during these unprecedented times.

Alone time

If you can’t leave your home then you will need to put the puppy in a separate room for short periods, even saying goodbye and closing the door, keeping quiet and giving them the feeling of being alone - so that they learn that you go out, and you return.

If your puppy hasn’t been vaccinated, you won’t be able to socialise them by walking around shops or cafes, in towns or in the countryside. These would be opportunities for your puppy to take in the scents, sights and sounds of the world in this critical socialisation period, but at the moment, while you aren’t able to this, you will need to improvise.

Learning about the world

Play different sounds around the house - car engines, sirens, crowds, loud music, heavy vehicle noises, tractors, horses, sheep, cows, reversing lorry sounds etc. You can think of a whole range of things that are appropriate to your normal lifestyle which your dog would usually experience, day-to-day. Voices are important too - babies crying, toddlers screaming, kids playing, male and female voices, people laughing, arguing or shouting. The TV or radio are really good sources for puppies to get used to different voices. Use video calls too, so that your pup gets to hear and learn who your friends and other family members are even if they can’t meet face-to-face at the moment.

Experience is everything

Lead training can be done around the house or garden. You could also seek puppy training advice from a Good Citizen Dog Training Club or a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor on the phone, or via an online training session.

Try and regularly handle your dog as a vet might too, for example you can pretend to use a stethoscope (you can buy them online for a few pounds), pick up a paw/s, look at their teeth, eyes, gums, and ears - so they get used to it.  

Play games too - trying hiding toys and treats, making activity toys, and teaching simple commands like sit, down and stay. Let your puppy play, explore or rest in the garden as they will absorb many different scents and sounds. We are all rightly anxious at the moment, but do try and stay confident around your pup as they will pick up on our anxieties.

Enjoy your new puppy - they will provide you with love, massive stress relief and a great distraction to all that is currently happening in the world. If you do as much of the above as you can, your puppy should come through this a well-adjusted balanced adult dog.

Jan Neil, Kevardhu Spinoni, Accolade of excellence Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

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