Thinking of getting a puppy while we're on lockdown?
Advice from our dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines - Updated 27 May
We are now many weeks into the Coronavirus pandemic and for a lot of us, working from home has become the new normal. This, along with a lack of contact with families and friends, the challenge of home schooling and the prospect of long sunny days just around the corner, means it is perhaps unsurprising that some people are considering adding a puppy to their family.
However, these are unprecedented times and it is not just our way of life that is being affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The same is true for our pets, and especially dogs, so although the thought of bringing a puppy into your home may be tempting, there is much to consider. There are also new changes in law which will affect how you can get puppies which are important to be aware of (see Lucy's Law below).
Can I provide a puppy what they need?
Getting a puppy at any time is both exciting and daunting. With their seemingly boundless energy and ability to find joy in everything, it is rare to find someone who won't smile or feel happy in their presence and it is easy to understand why they might be perceived as the perfect antidote to the current crisis we are all experiencing. However, they don't stay young for long and, regardless of age, are reliant on you and your family to help guide them and provide everything they need to keep them happy and healthy for the rest of their life. This is a significant responsibility and commitment and one which no-one should take lightly.
You may have lots of time now but what about when everything goes back to normal? It's important to think about your previous lifestyle and whether you would have been able to get a puppy at that point. As well as being wonderful and very rewarding in many ways, puppies are messy, noisy, destructive and very demanding of time and energy on a daily basis, They can also be very costly so prospective owners need to consider whether they are prepared for all this. If the answer is no then getting a puppy - especially now - is probably not a good idea.
Socialisation will be particularly challenging
With puppies we also have particular responsibilities to help them cope with the world in which we expect them to live. To ensure they grow into happy and well-adjusted adults, we need to expose puppies, in a very careful and positive way, to all the different types of people. As well as, dogs and other animals they are likely to encounter as well as the many sights, sounds and smells - a process known as socialisation. The key socialisation period in puppies occurs between three and 14 weeks and without this there is the risk that they can become more fearful and anxious when they face new experiences and situations later in life.
As the need to maintain our social distance continues, effective socialisation will be more difficult. In addition to this, vets are also operating in a different way to normal and may not be able to provide your puppy with their primary vaccination course. If your puppy hasn't had their full vaccination course then there will be areas which you should avoid to protect him.
Remember Lucy's Law
On the 6 April, new legislation - 'Lucy's Law' - came into force which bans the sale of puppies and kittens in England from third party sellers e.g. pet shops, traders or dealers. This means that anyone wanting to buy or adopt must go directly to a breeder or rehoming centre. Similar legislation is also being planned for Wales.
If you do decide to go ahead and get a puppy then you need to be really careful and make sure that you don't get caught out by an illegal third party dealer. Defra has produced lots of information to help you avoid being 'petfished'.
Get a puppy that has the best chance of living a happy and healthy life.
If having read all our information you are confident that you will be able to give a puppy, or an adult dog, a suitable forever home then we would urge you to think about adopting one of the many we have in our care. Although our rehoming centres remain closed to the general public we can rehome and foster using a remote process so please do consider adopting a rescue dog.
If you do decide to buy then using the Puppy Contract will help ensure your puppy has been well cared for, is healthy and will make the perfect pet for you.