Hampshire vets helping lockdown puppy owners tackle unruly behaviour

A Hampshire veterinary practice is supporting lockdown puppy owners to handle their pet’s behavioural issues.

Ashworth Veterinary Group has seen a surge in the number of new puppies being registered with the practice during the pandemic as millions of people found themselves at home.

But Covid-19 restrictions have meant puppies have missed out on socialisation with other dogs and humans, leading to behavioural issues such as barking, jumping up and growling and snapping at other dogs.

Ashworth Vets, which has surgeries in Farnborough, Fleet and Sandhurst has come to the rescue of new owners by providing online advice and training tips– and demand is so high there is a waiting list for future classes.

Some 20 owners attended the first ‘Tackling Teenagers’ class run by clinical director Kerry Lambert and veterinary nurse and pet behaviourist Nicole Crooks.

Kerry said: “We had a bumper number of registrations of new puppies last year. We would normally have 30 to 40 registrations a month and in September we had 90 new puppies registered with us. We held puppy parties on Zoom as we were unable to welcome owners and puppies into the practice due to Covid restrictions, and 95% of the people attending were first-time puppy owners.

“We knew that there would be potential issues when puppies were growing up and were unable to be socialised in the normal way, so we organised a workshop to tackle teenage problems in dogs. Some of the classic behavioural issues owners are now facing are barking and jumping up, and there are a lot of dogs that are very reactive as they don’t know how to deal with social situations when they meet other dogs. We are concerned about a generation of puppies struggling through lack of socialisation and people perhaps even giving up their puppies if they feel they can’t cope. There are a number of case of puppies being offered for rehoming or relinquished to rehoming centres and we want to offer owners a helpful start to prevent this happening.”

As well as professional advice on how to train their adolescent dogs, owners have the opportunity to ask questions on how to handle their pet’s behaviour.

Kerry added: “We knew there would be a lot of owners having issues with dogs they bought during lockdown, so we are tailoring out online classes to help support owners with what they need to learn. We had 20 owners on our first Zoom class and we now have a waiting list for future classes so there is clearly a lot of demand. The main issues are affecting dogs of around nine-months-old, which is the equivalent of being a teenager for dogs, and they are the ones who have not been properly socialised during lockdown.”

The next class will be held on Zoom on March 25th and is open to members of the public, as well as Ashworth clients. Classes cost £5 and last one hour. To sign up, email kerry.lambert@ashworthvetgroup.co.uk