Is buying a Covid puppy just barking up the wrong tree?

(Copyright James Robinson)

by ANTONY CLAY

YORKSHIRE folk have been seeking a bit of comfort during the pandemic lockdown – with many buying a dog as a Covid companion.

The Kennel Club – the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training – has found that three in five dog owners in Yorkshire and the Humber saw their dog as a lifeline during lockdown.

But the organisation is concerned that there could be future problems if people find that they can no longer look after a puppy bought in haste.

It has launched a #BePuppywise campaign to prevent a legacy of misery for neglected and discarded dogs.

Thousands in the region got a dog to be their Covid companion and almost a fifth bought a puppy simply because they were spending more time at home than usual.

But the Kennel Club says that a third of Yorkshire puppy buyers didn’t make a pet plan for going back to a normal lifestyle and 18 per cent admitted they may have bought from a puppy farm.

The #BePuppywise campaign aims to provide vital resources and advice to dog owners ranging from how to buy a puppy responsibly to training tips for pandemic pets.

The Kennel Club research shows that 13 per cent of Yorkshire and the Humber dog owners said that the main reason for getting their puppy was to have a lockdown companion to help them and their family, and 17 per cent said it was because they were spending more time at home than usual.

Almost a third believed lockdown was the perfect time to get a puppy with almost two in three also saying their dog was the best thing about lockdown.

But thousands missed puppy buying red flags when making their purchase with 28 per cent paying money before actually seeing their puppy, a quarter failing to see the puppy’s breeding environment and a shocking 81 per cent stating that they weren’t asked any questions by the breeder about their suitability as owners.

A worrying 22 per cent spent less than two hours doing their research before getting a puppy, leaving them particularly vulnerable to scams and unable to spot the signs of an unscrupulous breeder.

A fifth of puppy buyers in Yorkshire and the Humber thought that their puppy could have originated from a puppy farm.

Welfare organisations like the Kennel Club are also concerned about the long-term consequences of dog buyers making quick decisions when purchasing their pooch. The Kennel Club research found that a third of Yorkshire dog owners didn’t make a plan for going back to a more normal way of life before getting their puppy, two in three didn’t research puppy training, with behaviour and socialisation after lockdown causing concern, and more than a third failed to organise pet insurance.

Also, 13 per cent admitted that they had not fully considered the long-term responsibility that comes with having a dog.

The Kennel Club hopes that its #BePuppywise campaign will encourage people to take their time and do proper research when getting a dog.

The campaign provides advice, tools and resources, from videos to top tips for potential owners to help them find the right dog and breeder and prepare for their new family member, as well as for those new owners who are struggling with their pandemic puppy, helping them care for their new best friend as lockdown lifts and beyond.

Bill Lambert, head of health and welfare at the Kennel Club, said: “Our dogs are certainly helping us through the pandemic, providing a welcome and happy distraction as Covid-19 causes anxiety, suffering and disruption across the nation.

“However we do have concerns about those puppies which may have been bought on impulse, without owners doing their homework on how or where to get a dog responsibly, or fully realising a puppy is a new family member for life, not a short-term commodity.

“These hasty decisions not only play into the hands of the opportunistic scammers and puppy farmers operating during the pandemic but can also sadly result in puppies being rehomed if owners haven’t carefully considered how their dog will fit their normal life.

“In the current climate it’s never been more crucial to be puppywise via thorough, extensive research, taking time to find the right dog and breeder, and being aware of the red flags, as well as preparing for your new arrival and being a responsible owner.

“By wising up, you’re actively taking steps to prevent a potentially damaging lockdown legacy for puppies across the UK.”

The Kennel Club has produced a video with Dragons’ Den entrepreneur and Kennel Club Assured Breeder Jenny Campbell which shows puppy buyers what a reputable breeder looks like, and how to be a responsible new puppy owner during the pandemic.

The video and more tips on how to #BePuppywise is available at http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/be-puppywise.

Jenny Campbell said: “Puppies take time, effort and care and a pandemic puppy will certainly need an extra hand in their training and socialisation.

“By being puppywise, and making use of the Kennel Club’s tips, expert advice and resources to work out if you’re ready for a puppy and how to buy one responsibly, as well as understanding your puppy and how to be a good owner, your canine companion will be happy and healthy, providing you with a lifetime of happiness, fun and a new best friend.”

The Kennel Club runs the country’s largest registration database for both pedigree and crossbreed dogs and the Petlog database, which is one of the UK’s biggest reunification service for microchipped animals. It licenses shows and clubs across a wide range of activities and runs the Crufts dog show.

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