Meet the unwanted lockdown puppies
This blog was published on 26.03.21 and so the mentioned puppies will have likely been rehomed.
Our dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: "There was a huge surge in demand for dogs during lockdown as families made the most of spending more time at home. What concerns us is what's happening to these 'lockdown puppies' now and what will happen to them over the coming months."
We're expecting to see even more puppies abandoned
We're worried that while many families will have considered the long-term commitment of taking on a dog, some may not have been thinking post-lockdown about how they'll care for their new pet when they return to work or how they'll continue to care for them if their personal circumstances are affected by the recession.
We are bracing ourselves for a major dog welfare crisis this year as we expect to see huge numbers of dogs relinquished to rescue centres, sold online or even abandoned; with struggling charities forced to pick up the pieces.
We also have concerns that many dogs who have got used to having their owners at home or who have never experienced being by themselves may struggle to adapt once lockdown measures are eased and people begin to migrate back to the office. We know that one of the major reasons dogs are relinquished is due to behaviour problems and research suggests that separation-related anxiety may affect 85% of dogs. It is really important that we start to get our pets used to a new routine and life post lockdown.
This could result in even more dogs coming into rescue centres as owners return to work and they struggle to cope. In addition to this, many of the puppies bought during lockdown will be approaching adolescence, a period of time where big behavioural changes can occur. This period does typically pass but may bring additional challenges for owners if unprepared for how best to manage their dog during this time.
Read more: Managing your puppy through adolescence.
Sadly, we know that as animals easy to buy online
Dogs are a huge responsibility and taking one on should always be a decision that is made carefully, with great consideration given to whether you can care for that pet for the rest of their life. Any prospective pet owners should do lots of research and ensure that they can commit to that animal and provide them with everything needed for a happy and healthy life.
Sadly, we know that as animals are so readily and easily available to buy online, it can be very easy for people to buy a new pet on a whim and that often means that within a few months, they quickly realise that they cannot cope with their new family member and seek to give them up or sell them on.
Our advice to anyone thinking of getting a dog is to do lots of research and to take time to really consider whether you can commit to a dog and the responsibility and costs associated with owning one. If you can, then please consider adopting a rescue dog instead of buying a puppy.
If you are thinking of buying a puppy then you need to take extra care to make sure you don't end up getting 'Petfished'. Find out how to get a pet safely.
Meet the abandoned puppies
When people buy a pet impulsively without realising the cost, time and effort that they need, those animals can sometimes end up homeless just as quickly as they were given one. One of the puppies could be Muffin...
Nine-month-old cockapoo Muffin was born in April which means she would have gone to her home around June time. She was abandoned in Surrey in October and rescued by the dog warden who brought her to our Millbrook Animal Centre, in Chobham, Surrey. A spokesperson said:
I expect Muffin was a lockdown puppy, bought by a family during the start of the pandemic and abandoned when they realised they couldn't take care of her. She was very nervous and under socialised when she arrived so we spent a lot of time working with her to help her learn all of the things she has unfortunately missed out on due to lockdown.
We believe her previous owners may not have fully understood what they were taking on when they got Muffin and that she may have been bought on a whim. Lockdown has also made it much more difficult for new puppy owners to socialise and train their dogs due to training clubs being closed and restrictions on meeting up.
Muffin has made lots of friends while she's been in our care and has now been reserved and will soon be ready to go to her new home. Sadly, we fear that there will be thousands more just like her.
Robbie, a poodle cross Jack Russell terrier, arrived at our Mount Noddy Animal Centre in West Sussex, in October. The then eight-month-old was born at the start of lockdown after being bred by a hobby breeder and bought by an elderly couple from the local area. Susan Botherway, manager at the centre run by the RSPCA Sussex, Chichester & District Branch, said:
The couple already had one dog and wanted a second but, unfortunately, just couldn't cope with Robbie. He was never walked or let out of the house or garden so he was extremely nervous when he arrived and found kennels really stressful. He'd missed out on so many vital early-life experiences.
We managed to place him in a foster home where he slowly began to calm down, settle and come out of his shell. His fosterers have fallen in love with him and have now taken him on permanently.
Ten-week-old pup Molly ended up in our care just eight days after going home with her new owners. The little poodle cross fox terrier was purchased over Christmas but was relinquished to our Martlesham Animal Centre - run by RSPCA Suffolk East & Ipswich Branch - just over a week later. Animal centre manager Zoe Barrett said:
Molly didn't get on with the other dog in the house and her new owners simply couldn't cope with her so asked us for help. Unfortunately, lockdown has made it much more difficult for puppy owners to properly socialise and train their dogs.
We understand lots of dog owners are struggling to cope with behavioural problems due to the major changes to our way of life and it may be tricky for people to get help due to the restrictions that are in place.
Thankfully, we had space to take Molly in and we've already found her a wonderful new home. But puppies are hard work and it's really important that people consider whether they can manage one before bringing one home; and whether now is the right time to add a dog to their home?
American bulldog Hector was abandoned during lockdown outside our Leeds, Wakefield & District branch in West Yorkshire over the summer. The youngster - thought to be around one - initially only responded to German commands but has now learned English in a bid to find a new home. He's a big, strong dog who is looking for an owner with experience with large breeds.
Hector finds it difficult meeting and trusting new people and so is looking for adopters who can make regular visits and get to know him before taking him home. He'd like a calm and quiet, adult-only home and his new owners must be non-smokers (there's evidence to suggest he has been burned in the past and he finds the smell of smoke quite unsettling). He's an intelligent dog who loves to learn, enjoys playing ball, and loves having his tummy tickled.
Jack Russell terrier cross Corgi Scooby was found abandoned in an alleyway in Chertsey, Surrey, on 13 December, likely another victim of the pandemic. Our Inspector Mike Beaman went to collect the frightened little dog. He said:
"A member of the public had found the little tan and white dog tied up to a lamp post down an alleyway when he was walking his own dog at around 2 pm. When he passed again, around five hours later, the little dog was still there, wearing a harness and attached with a metal chain. It was raining, cold and the poor dog was shivering so he untied him and took him home before calling us."
Scooby is now at our Millbrook Animal Centre, where he's being assessed before being placed for adoption. He's a sweet, playful and fun little dog but has displayed a few challenging behaviours that staff are working on with him. He'll be added to our Find a Pet page when he's available for rehoming.