SINCE the onset of Covid-19 pet ownership has been on the increase. The lockdown has brought a variety of changes to our lives and for many families adding a new canine friend has been a popular choice due to months of isolation. Problems arise once a new puppy or dog is brought into the home and understanding the right type of care to give can be a struggle.
In general, pet ownership has increased due to Covid-19. A recent survey has found that nearly half of all pet owners in the UK added at least one new furry friend during the lockdown and 10% of British households currently without pets intend to get one in the next six months. These are staggering statistics but with 37% of pet owners working from home during the height of the pandemic it was inevitable that owners would get closer to their pets and be tempted to bring another one into their home.
Owning a new dog certainly has its rewards but knowing which dog to choose can be a difficult choice to make. Some breeds require high-octane activity while others enjoy quieter solitude. The type of home an owner has may or may not be suitable for the type of breed that is desired. In the beginning, a puppy is very cute but depending on the breed that the same puppy can grow into a very large dog that needs a great amount of attention, space and exercise. This can be disconcerting for some owners who might prefer a smaller dog or a dog that has a quieter nature that requires less fuss.
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Lockdown has also brought the darker side of dog breeding into the spotlight, as demand soared. Google searches for “buy a puppy” increased by 166 per cent since lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020. The increase in demand has caused an upswing in prices for puppies which is a worry for breeders and charities. Siberian Husky breeder Stephen Biddlecombe points out they have been inundated with emails from prospective owners.
He says: “A puppy is a puppy only for a few weeks and then that puppy grows into an adult, an adult dog, and you’ve got a completely different animal on your hands, as you can see.”
It is feared that not all breeders are acting appropriately. The Kennel Club’s Bill Lambert said some breeders had hiked their prices and there is concern that some buyers would look abroad, where welfare standards can be lower. He said: ‘We are hearing stories that some breeders are actually profiteering.”
As many workers return to their jobs and children go back to school there is a worry that the novelty of owning a new puppy or dog will wear off and they will be abandoned or dropped off at a rescue centre. Since Covid-19 rescue centres have seen an increase in the number of abandoned dogs as rising unemployment hits record levels.
There has been great interest by the public to adopt or foster dogs during the crisis however Dogs Trust said: “Dog ownership is a wonderful thing, but it is a lifelong commitment which must be carefully considered. “As our saying goes, ‘a dog is for life’ and, in this case, not just for self-isolation.”