Almost two thirds (62%) of people welcoming a ‘lockdown puppy’ have struggled to look after them over the past year, a survey by Agria Pet Insurance has found.
Issues with behaviour, social problems – such as fear and separation, the impact on family life and the impact on the working day to fit in with their puppy’s needs, have been cited as the top challenges that new owners are facing with their new canine family members.
Nearly one in two (42%) of new owners found that being in lockdown provided the opportunity to own their puppy, where previous circumstances had prevented them from owing a dog.
And now that the UK is on the roadmap for lockdown easing, one in four of the 1,500 new owners surveyed is concerned that dog ownership will become more difficult as life begins to return to normal.
Furthermore, anxiety over how day-to-day changes will affect them, and their dog, is felt by one in three of all owners surveyed. The biggest fears include feelings of guilt over leaving their dog by themselves and worries that their dog will not cope being on their own.
However, despite these issues and concerns for the future, one in three new owners described their puppy as being a ‘lifesaver’ during the pandemic, enhancing family life and helping to combat loneliness.
Simon Wheeler, Managing Director at Agria Pet Insurance, says, “With a reported 3.2 million puppies joining their new families during the pandemic, our research indicates that potentially, for over 1.3 million owners, the experience has not been without its challenges. However, it’s very encouraging that so many ‘lockdown puppies’ have been described as ‘lifesavers’, indicating that, in many cases, issues have been outweighed by the positive side of pet ownership.
“It is concerning to see the number of new owners worried about how their ‘new normal’ will fit with dog ownership. Just as we are beginning the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems we could be on the brink of a new puppy behaviour pandemic.
“With problems of separation anxiety already reported among these puppies, we strongly urge new owners to seek the advice of qualified behaviourists to make the transition in circumstances easier for their dog and for themselves.”