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

August 31, 2020

If you’ve welcomed a puppy into your life during the Covid-19 lockdown, here’s some advice on how to prepare yourself and your puppy for a change in routine as children return to school and more people return to work.

The Dogs Trust has warned of an impending dog behaviour crisis based on the results of a survey to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on dogs and their owners. The findings included:

  • an 82% increase in reports of dogs whining or barking when a household member was busy
  • a 20% increase in reports of dogs frequently seeking attention from their owner
  • a 41% increase in reports of dogs being clingy or following people around the house during lockdown

How to prepare your puppy for a change of routine

The return to work and school 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. 

How to train 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 development. 

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. Get more advice on training dogs to be left alone

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 lockdown period and current social distancing requirements will have made 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 your puppy during lockdown

Training is also an important part of your puppy’s early years development, so you shouldn’t delay signing your puppy up for puppy training classes. The good news is that lots of dog trainers are running virtual puppy training classes, which you can join from home. Some have also resumed face-to-face classes with smaller numbers of attendees.

How to find a good dog trainer

Unfortunately there are lots of people who claim to be dog trainers but don’t have any qualifications. This is because the dog training industry is unregulated. Watch this BBC mini film about why more regulation is needed in the pet industry.

To find a properly qualified dog trainer look for one who is recognised by the Animal Behaviour & Training Council (ABTC). The following dog training networks are ABTC-accredited, and only use and promote positive and force-free training techniques:

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 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. Read more about having a puppy and working full-time.

To summarise

  • Plan for your new daytime routine with a dog in tow
  • Allow plenty of time for teaching your puppy to be left alone. This should be done gradually.
  • Keep up with your puppy’s socialisation programme
  • Sign up for virtual puppy school with with an ABTC-approved dog trainer
  • Find a dog walker or doggy day care to help care for your dog if you are going back to work