Puppy Life After Lockdown
Written by Veterinary Dr Linda Simon
So, you’ve bought a puppy!
What an exciting time and, whether rightly or wrongly, many have taken advantage of the lockdown to purchase or adopt a puppy. Certainly, this ensures they have had ample time for puppy training and for bonding with them while isolating from the rest of the world.
The extra time spent teaching your pup manners and establishing rules and boundaries should be advantageous but there are potential drawbacks we should all be aware of.
Owning a pup is a big commitment and one that will continue for long after lockdown lifts and normality resumes. They won’t understand why we are suddenly not around 24/7 and now have other commitments such as work and a social life. They may also find it odd having new people over to the house and going to places such as the vet and groomer. All of these events are a crucial part of puppy socialisation but have been scuppered in recent months.
Start as you mean to go on…
To set your little one up for success, get them used to the idea of some time alone as soon as possible. Crate training is a good start and they should feel calm and content staying in their crate in another room. We can also leave them in another room outside of their crate, perhaps with something to keep them occupied. Food puzzles and chews really come into their own in this scenario. In fact, puppy food is a fabulous training tool as, not only can it be used for teaching commands and rules, it can also help to build confidence and trust when left alone. The Pooch & Mutt Peanut Butter treats are a real winner with most when it comes to high value treats for puppy training, while the Pooch & Mutt Calm and Relaxed treats are a sensible offering before bed time.
One of the best things we can do for our new furry friends is to establish a routine from the get go. This helps them understand their place in the world and reduces anxiety. Set feeding times are a sensible idea and most young puppies will be fed four meals a day when initially brought home. Feeding from food puzzles and items like rubber Kongs provides your dog with a good form of entertainment and relaxation (while you get a few minutes to yourself for a cup of tea!). Pooch & Mutt’s Puppy Complete Super Food is a dry puppy food packed with chicken and other tasty ingredients such as sweet potato, gravy and beetroot which is perfect for filling these food toys.
There is no doubt that we often need to put a lot of effort into keeping our puppies happy and confident. This character building should begin as soon as they arrive home and continue for the duration of their lives. Regardless of breed, any pup can be taught a set number of training cues such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, though some will be quicker to learn than others (I’m looking at you Border Collie!).
As many pups have not been vaccinated due to the lockdown restrictions, exercise is a little trickier than usual. However, most vets agree that pups can be let outside in our gardens as well as carried around in the great outdoors. One of the main risks to them is the urine of rats as it can carry bacteria called Leptospirosis, so we need to be extra cautious where rats are present and keep our curious canines away from bodies of water such as ponds and deep puddles.
For those who are thinking about purchasing a puppy but haven’t yet decided if it is the right thing for them and their family, here are a few important points to consider:
- Puppies and dogs are expensive. As well as the cost of purchasing one and ‘kitting them out’ with things like bowls and leads, we also need to consider the less obvious expenses such as pet insurance, food and vaccinations. The average dog costs upwards of £15,000 in its lifetime!
- While you may have a void to fill during lockdown, life should (hopefully!) be business as normal soon, so consider if a new pup would fit into your regular routine. Leaving them alone for 8 hours a day while you work is simply unfair.
- Don’t assume a new pup will automatically slot into your home life. Not every dog gets along naturally well with other pets and/or children and many settled pets will take time and persuasion to accept a ‘newbie’ into the fold.
- As the new Dog’s Trust slogan states ‘A dog is for life and not just for Lockdown’. It’s important to remember that most dogs live a good ten years or more and should never be an impulse buy.