How to help your puppy cope with the new normal

With the demand for puppies soaring during lockdown, Dogs Trust Dog School have put together some amazing tips for puppy owners to help their pooch adjust to these new experiences.

Despite our face-to-face training classes being on pause for 5 months, we had an unprecedented demand for classes from new puppy owners. During lockdown, Dogs Trust Dog School had 5000 enquires about training classes for new pups, and as soon as it was safe to do so, we have had over 1400 booked into our classes already, with approximately 450 enquiries every week.

Whilst many have loved the quality time, they’ve had with their new four-legged friend, a transition back to normal life won’t always be easy for our canine companions. So, whether it’s about settling when working from home, owners returning to work or meeting people in facemasks, Dogs Trust Dog School have some handy tips to help puppies cope with the new normal.

Top tips include:

Young puppies may not be used to spending time on their own after so much company during lockdown.

  • Make sure your puppy has a comfy bed or den, where they can relax, and give them something fun to keep busy, like a long-lasting treat or puzzle toy.
  • The key to success is progressing slowly – Just like us, a lot of our pups can learn at different speeds. Always only increase the distance and time away for which your puppy stays relaxed. Any signs of distress, and you’ve progressed too fast and need to go back a stage.
  • Teaching a puppy to be left alone positively from the start is much easier than treating established anxiety problems. So, putting some time in now to get your puppy relaxed when left will save you both a lot of work and worry later in life

Meeting and greeting other people

  • It’s really useful to train your puppy to stay calm when visitors come to the door or into your house, as well as meeting people on walks. In both cases, it is important to build up new experiences slowly, so your pup learns to be calm and relaxed. Reward them when they are quiet and relaxed.
  • Teaching your pup to go to their bed in a different part of the house when they hear the doorbell can make greeting visitors easier.
  • Always remember to wash your hands regularly before and after interacting with your dog and ask your guests to do the same. A dog’s coat, lead, toys etc, could carry coronavirus just like any other surface.

Homeworking

  • If you’re working from home on a longer-term basis, it’s especially important for an excitable puppy to learn to relax, lie down, and have time on their own when you’re busy on phone calls or video meetings.
  • Start training at times when your puppy is more likely to be already relaxing. You’ll know your dog is truly settled when they lie down, not asking for attention, and not easily distracted by what’s going on around them.
  • To begin with, sit quietly on a chair with your dog lay on a blanket on the floor. Drop tiny bite size treats to your dog as a reward for settling down on the blanket. Don’t say anything to your dog whilst doing this. Gradually only reward more relaxed behaviours.
  • You can then start to increase the amount of time they must be settled before you reward them

Dog owners can access training videos, owner handbooks and more by visiting the dedicated page on the Dogs Trust website. Dogs Trust Dog School has recently resumed classes for some of its Dog Schools, with smaller classes and other safety measures in place. To see if your local Dog School has reopened visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/dog-school. For schools that can’t reopen just yet, online one-to-one sessions or full online training courses are available.

With Dogs Trust predicting more dogs at risk of abandonment due to behavioural issues that have developed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Dogs Trust’s Dog School has never been so vital in helping to support owners with their dogs’ training. This year, Dog School is being supported by funding raised by generous players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Maria Wickes, Head of Dog School says

“The most common reason dogs are handed into Dogs Trust is due to behaviour-related issues, so we would urge owners of puppies bought during lockdown to act now to prevent these developing. We would like to thank the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their continued support, which allows us to give dog owners the information they need to understand their pooch and prevent common behavioural issues from arising.”

For more information and to see if your local Dog School has reopened visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/dog-school