Who will let the dogs out? One in ten pandemic puppy owners worry about being able to care for their dog after lockdown

One in ten (10 per cent) owners who bought a dog during the ‘pandemic puppy boom’ are now worried about whether they can care for them when restrictions end and life returns to normal, according to new data released by The Kennel Club. More than a fifth (22 per cent) said that they are particularly worried about behavioural problems resulting from lack of training and socialisation, and almost one in three (31 per cent) admitted they hadn’t made a plan for their pet for when they return to normal life and work.

While almost two thirds (63 per cent) of new dog owners said that they believe lockdown is the perfect time to get a dog, both new and seasoned dog owners continue to face various challenges as Covid-19 restrictions remain stringent. The statistics, collected by the UK's biggest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare show:

  • A quarter (25 per cent) of new owners are worried about the range of problematic behaviours their dog might have adopted during lockdown, such as shyness, aggression and separation anxiety
  • Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) worry that their dog won’t fit their lifestyle once they return to work
  • Over a quarter (27 per cent) are concerned about getting their dog used to ‘normal life’ once lockdown ends
  • More than one in three (37 per cent) admit they didn’t research any puppy classes or training schools in their area beforebuying their dog, and are now worried how their dog will cope with the outside world and meeting other dogs and humans
Worryingly, it also seems some new owners may have made short-sighted decisions and didn’t realise the commitment that comes with getting a puppy, which could exacerbate behavioural issues and have a further negative impact for these dogs in the future. Over a third (38 per cent) of pandemic puppy buyers said their main motivation for getting their dog was because they were spending more time at home and one in five (20 per cent) admit they hadn’t fully considered the long-term commitment or responsibility that comes with having a dog.

Following this troubling research, and to help guide new dog owners through the development stages of their puppy’s life and address these concerns, The Kennel Club has developed a range of online resources offering training, health and behavioural advice as part of its Be Puppywise campaign. The campaign also provides tips on responsible puppy buying and advice on how to care for your puppy in its first few weeks at home to help owners to provide the best foundation for their puppy to become a happy, healthy, well-socialised dog.

Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club said: “Training and socialisation are an essential part of a dog’s life from their puppyhood all the way through to their older years. Training doesn’t only ensure that a dog, owner as well as other dogs and humans are safe, it also strengthens the bond between dog and owner significantly.

“We would urge any owners who are worried about their dog’s behaviour, health or socialisation to make use of all of our Be Puppywise resources, including contacting a dog trainer or behaviourist if you’re struggling, to ensure you and your four-legged friend are ready to return to normal life together once restrictions are lifted. Dog ownership is a lifelong commitment and it’s your responsibility to give them the best foundation for a happy, healthy and confident life.

“Training and socialisation might be more difficult at the moment – we’re certainly concerned about issues like separation anxiety and shyness and aggression with other dogs or people – but it’s crucial you take the time and effort to overcome these challenges and Be Puppywise, for the sake of the nation’s dogs, for your new best friend and to help reap the benefits of having a four-legged companion.”

The Kennel Club is concerned about the impact of the lockdown restrictions not only on dog behaviour, but also on their physical health, with the significantly changed daily routines of both humans and dogs. The data showed that almost one in five (17 per cent) dog owners are worried about their dog’s weight due to overfeeding them during lockdown, and the combination of more frequent treats and limited exercise may leave thousands of dogs around the UK at risk of obesity this year, adding to the list of problems dogs and owners are facing.

As part of The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme and to help new owners, expert trainers are running virtual puppy foundation classes during lockdown, and worried owners can find weight management advice, further training resources and educational videos via The Kennel Club’s Be Puppywise campaign page.