New research shows welfare crisis looming unless UK opens for dogs

Who will let the dogs in? New research shows welfare crisis looming for pandemic pups unless UK opens for dogs 
  • Welfare crisis looms for the dogs that were a lockdown lifeline for so many
  • Almost a quarter of owners fear they won’t be able to provide a suitable home for their dog post-lockdown, as we leave home more to work and socialise
  • Nearly one in five owners now considering rehoming their dog
  • And some admit to leaving dogs ‘home alone’, in hot cars or tied up outside shops
  • Almost all new dog owners (92 per cent) want more places to be dog friendly
  • The Kennel Club urges businesses to consider the economic benefits of opening to the nation’s 14 million dog owners as research shows strong demand
New research shows that the burgeoning market of pandemic dog owners fear they can’t give a suitable home to their pets as lockdown restrictions ease, unless places of leisure and employment improve their dog-friendly credentials.

The research, released this week by The Kennel Club as part of its open for dogs campaign, shows that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all owners fear that they will no longer be able to provide a suitable home for their dog post-lockdown, with a staggering amount – nearly one in five (17 per cent) – saying they have considered rehoming as an option. Close to two in three Brits (63 per cent), both owners and non-dog owners alike, worry about dogs bought during the pandemic being abandoned when 'normal' life resumes.

During lockdown, dogs became a vital support line for many people – with pandemic ownership skyrocketing – and more than one in three (36 per cent) of the estimated 14 million strong UK dog owning community now say that they are worried about what their pet will do if they can’t go with them to the places they usually socialise and work, once restrictions ease.

“This new research worryingly shows that if dogs can’t go to places with their owners, and fit their lifestyle post-pandemic, some will be left home alone for too long, or even sadly rehomed or abandoned,” commented Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club. “These consequences could be quite devastating for the nation’s dogs, who frankly don’t deserve to be left behind after being a lifeline for so many during lockdown.”

Away from pandemic concerns, owners – who are also readjusting to the ‘new normal’ – are being forced to leave dogs outside, in the car or at home for longer periods if a place isn’t dog friendly, leading to alarming consequences including pet theft, heat-related health concerns, and separation anxiety. Over a fifth (21 per cent) of owners admitted leaving their dog at home for longer than they should have due to places not being dog friendly, and 14 per cent admitted leaving their dog in the car or outside on the street whilst going into a non-dog friendly establishment or shop.

Despite being a nation of dog lovers – with three in five of all Brits (59 per cent) wanting more places to be open for dogs, citing benefits such as making the atmosphere more friendly and being a conversation starter after a year off socialising – this research suggests the UK must do more to protect man’s best friend as lockdown restrictions ease. Priorities and lifestyles are changing post-pandemic; almost all new dog owners who bought a pup during the pandemic, a staggering 92 per cent, want to see more places open for dogs, and three quarters (72 per cent) are more likely to go to a dog-friendly establishment than one that isn’t.

Following this research, which illustrates a number of worrying consequences for generation ‘pandemic puppy’, The Kennel Club has launched its open for dogs campaign, urging more businesses, establishments and workplaces to consider the benefits of being dog friendly. The campaign provides advice, tools and resources, from downloadable dog-friendly policies and window stickers, to top tips for both owners to take their dogs to dog-friendly places responsibly, as well as businesses and workplaces who want to open for dogs.

Bill added: “Hospitality, businesses and workplaces can play a role in combatting the looming welfare crisis faced by this pandemic pup generation by being open for dogs; helping owners to introduce or re-introduce their pet to ‘normal’, without leaving them behind, and preventing a legacy of separation anxiety.

“Following a year of lockdown restrictions impacting business, dog-friendly policies can also reap economic benefits across the board – according to our research more than one in two owners claim they would happily stay longer and spend more if their dog was with them whilst out socialising at a pub, café or restaurant.

“While there may have been some short-sighted puppy buying decisions made during the pandemic, as a dog-loving nation we must look at the bigger picture and encourage more places to welcome dogs, capitalise on the benefits and ‘paw it back’, easing our four-legged friends out of lockdown, opening up more widely for their re-entry to ‘normal’ life, and celebrating their positive place within our society.

“Dogs should be a part of our lives and daily routines as much as possible, and we hope to see the UK being as faithful to dogs as they are, and have been, to us.”

Further information about The Kennel Club’s open for dogs campaign, alongside practical advice, printable dog-friendly policies and ‘open for dogs’ window stickers for business owners, workplace decision makers and owners, is available on The Kennel Club website.