Advice for owners who found puppy love during lockdown as they prepare to return to work

OWNERS who bought puppies and kittens during lockdown could encounter fresh challenges as their new pets will soon be left alone when the UK returns to work.

With many workers on furlough, shielding or working from home, there has been a rush to buy puppies.

Demand for new pets dramatically increased as families were forced to stay at home during coronavirus restrictions, with the Kennel Club reporting that prices for popular pooches have doubled and waiting lists have increased fourfold.

Now, as millions of people prepare to return to work, there are fears about puppies suffering separation anxiety if they are left at home or even being abandoned if owners can’t cope.

Many new puppies have also had a sheltered start to life as, during lockdown restrictions, they have missed out on vital socialisation skills, including meeting other people and animals.

Dr Rachel Dean, Director of Clinical Research and Excellence in Practice at veterinary group, VetPartners, which has more than 130 practices all over the UK, has issued advice to owners.

Dr Dean said: “We have a new lockdown generation of puppies who are missing out on socialisation skills at an early age and also at risk of abandonment issues when they are left at home after spending several months with a family. Puppies have not had the opportunity to meet other people or animals, they have not been able to go their veterinary practice and don’t know about other important and potentially scary things like buses, cars, parks and birds.

“We need to teach them these things by stimulating them and enriching their environment in an emotionally safe way. We need to take things slowly as some puppies will be older and it is harder to learn new tricks as we get older.”

Puppies and kittens have grown so used to having people around them at home that they could be distressed when their owners return to work after furlough or when workplaces reopen.

Dr Dean said: “Some young puppies and kittens will never have been left on their own in the house. Sudden separation could lead to significant mental and emotional health problem in our pets. Poor mental health leads to new and different behaviours – a lot we don’t like, such as destructive and aggressive behaviour.”

For media enquiries, please contact Amanda Little, VetPartners Senior PR and Communications Manager, on 07970 198 492 or email amanda.little@vetpartners.co.uk

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