Prepare your pandemic puppy for life after lockdown

As Covid restrictions lift in England from Monday 19 July, we are urging dog owners not to forget their four-legged friends, especially so-called 'pandemic puppies' who still have plenty of 'firsts' to experience in the big wide world.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, demand for dogs has increased and many people have welcomed a four-legged friend into their lives. To help owners prepare their dogs for normality,we have put together some helpful tips to help dogs cope with normal life resuming, as well as advice for owners who have brought a puppy into their lives during lockdown, who won't yet have experienced different aspects of normal life.  

Dr Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour & Research, said:   

“Many of us have longed for normality returning, and now we’re at near-normality. But for our dogs suddenly emerging into the world could be especially confusing. This is particularly the case for so called ‘pandemic puppies’ who may be experiencing new things for the first time. The good news is, it's not too late to prepare your dog, take some time to introduce new things gradually and to teach them vital skills to help them cope with new experiences.”

  • Staycations 

Owners holidaying with their dog for the first time this year should take into consideration their dogs’ needs first and foremost. All dogs are individuals with their own personalities and needs so what is dog friendly accommodation will vary from dog to dog. Owners should: 

    • research the accommodation type and whether dogs can access all parts of the accommodation 
    • consider what mode and duration of travel will be required to get there 
    • look into the area and local walks to determine if it might be suitable for their dog e.g., if it’s quiet or busy, if dogs can be walked on or off-lead, and whether there could be other animals or livestock in the area that may become frightened if the owner’s dog is off its lead 
    • determine if their dog will be faced with new experiences and environments whilst there which they will be able to cope with e.g., being taken to the beach for the first time or seeing livestock in the countryside, as this could be overwhelming for them. 
    • Car travel  

    Puppies may not have experienced long car journeys yet, so if you’re set to travel further afield this summer, it’s a good idea to introduce your dogs to cars and car travel. It’s important to make sure dogs are always safe and feel confident when travelling in the car, regardless of where they might be going: Car Travel Advice  

    • Dog walkers 

    As many workers start to return to the office, owners may be considering using a dog walker to break their dog’s day up. You can get advice on finding a good dog walker at How to find a good dog walker   

    If your dog hasn’t come into contact with many people during the last year, dog owners can find advice on preparing your dog for visitors here: Visitor Training  

    • Weddings 

    With weddings back in full swing, you may be considering involving your pooch in your special day. If you’re considering delegating maid of honour duties to your pooch, Dogs Trust has advice to make sure your dog enjoys your big day as much as you do: How to plan a dog friendly wedding  

    • Fireworks / noise  

    Public fireworks displays were cancelled last year, meaning many puppies acquired during the past 12 months won’t have experienced the mass of loud bangs and whizzes which dogs can find stressful and scary. November may seem like a long way off, but the key to preventing noise fears is to prepare early and there are things you can do to help them cope from now Fireworks Advice   

    Doing some preparation around loud noises generally is helpful, especially as it will be getting busier out and about, and dogs can feel worried by noises such as traffic.  

    • Being left alone 

    It’s important that we continue to teach our dogs to cope with being left alone to prevent separation anxiety developing, as many of them will have had very little time away from us for the past year. There is lots of advice on helping your dog settle and cope alone at Settle Training  

    One of the main reasons why dogs are handed into Dogs Trust is because of behaviour-related issues that could have been prevented early on. A rise in problematic behaviours due to lockdown measures, such as separation anxiety, could mean families have no other option but to give up their dog, which is why the charity wants to help ‘change the tale’ for as many dogs as possible, so they remain in happy homes.   

    Dogs Trust Dog School is back running face-to-face training classes to help prepare dogs for normal life. For more information, visit Dogs Trust Dog School. Online training videos can also be found here.