Advice on how to prepare your puppy for life post-pandemic

May 6, 2020

If you’ve welcomed a puppy into your life during the coronavirus lockdown, here’s some advice on how to prepare yourself and your puppy for when life returns to ‘normal’.

The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have recently issued a warning that a ‘dog is for life, not just for lockdown’. This is because they are concerned that owners may not be able to care for their dogs when this period of lockdown and social distancing ends. There are things you can do now to prepare yourself and your puppy for when that time comes.  

Training your puppy to be alone

With the family at home, new puppies will be getting lots of attention, have plenty of company and lots of walks. But what happens post lockdown when everyone goes back to work and school? Puppies need lots of company when they are young. They are just like babies, and need to know that their family is close by. But there will be times when you need to leave them alone; for example, to pop to the shops, take the children to school or go to work. Therefore, training your puppy to be left alone is an important part of their early years development. 

You can work on training your puppy to be left alone during this period of lockdown, so that post Covid-19 they won’t become anxious about being on their own. You can do this by getting your puppy used to being in another room on their own for short periods of time. Gradually build up the amount of time you leave your puppy alone in another room. And give them a tasty treat to enjoy to help them learn to associate being left alone with something nice. 

How to socialise your puppy

You’ll want to make sure that your puppy grows up to be a happy, confident and well-rounded dog. Between 4-16 weeks of age, puppies are most inquisitive about, and receptive to, new experiences. This is the key time to expose them to lots of different people, sounds and experiences. 

The current period of lockdown and social distancing makes it harder to socialise puppies. However, several dog trainers have come up with some great ways for you to socialise your puppy and introduce them to different sounds, smells and objects at home and in the garden. 

  • Introduce your puppy to different sounds that they are likely to experience, both in and outside of the home, with the help of this sound therapy programme for dogs

How to train a puppy during coronavirus

Training is also an important part of your puppy’s early years development, so this shouldn’t be left until after the pandemic. The good news is that lots of dog trainers are running virtual puppy training classes. You can join in with them from the safety of your own home.

Unfortunately there are lots of people who claim to be dog trainers but don’t have any qualifications. To find a properly qualified dog trainer look for one who is accredited by the Animal Behaviour & Training Council (ABTC). The following dog training organisations are ABTC-accredited, and only use and promote positive and force-free training techniques. Check out their websites to find out which ones are offering virtual puppy training classes: 

How to look after a puppy when working full-time

If you have been furloughed or are working from home, you have probably got into a good routine with caring for your puppy. That said, if you are working from home you may have also discovered that puppies are quite demanding. You may not be getting as much work done as you would have liked!

If you think you will be returning to working in an office, or are likely to be away from the home for chunks of the day, you will need to organise day care for your dog. This could be doggy day care or a dog walker, depending on what is most suitable for your dog and your lifestyle. Do your research now, and start to make some enquiries about availability post-lockdown (whenever that may be!)

Read this blog post: I have a puppy and I work full-time

Adjusting to a new routine

When the time comes for everyone to return to work and school, it will probably come as a bit of a shock to the system. Early mornings, busy bathrooms, everyone trying to get out of the house at the same time…and now you have a puppy to factor into the equation. 

Plan ahead to adjust for having the additional responsibility of caring for a puppy. This includes keeping up with your puppy’s toilet training, making sure they get enough exercise, making time for training and play, and drop-offs and pick-ups to dog day care. 

To summarise, start preparing yourself and your puppy for life after lockdown: 

  • Teach your puppy to be left alone
  • Keep up with your puppy’s socialisation programme
  • Sign up for virtual puppy school with with an ABTC-approved dog trainer
  • Research day care for your dog for when you return to work
  • Plan for your new daytime routine to make time for your dog