Loughborough Echo

Tips to help ‘pandemic puppies’ in new normal


NEW dog owners have been urged to be mindful of their pet’s needs as coronaviru­s restrictio­ns ease.

There has been a surge in families taking on a “pandemic puppy” since the outbreak began, and Dogs Trust has put together some tips for owners as their pooches experience normal life for the first time. Returning to normality may also be challengin­g for more mature dogs who haven’t been socialisin­g for over a year.

Dr Rachel Casey, director of canine behaviour and research at Dogs Trust, said: “Many of us have longed for normality returning, and now we’re at near-normality.

“But for our dogs suddenly emerging into the world could be especially confusing. This is particular­ly the case for socalled ‘pandemic puppies’ who may be experienci­ng new things for the first time.

“The good news is, it’s not too late to prepare your dog, take some time to introduce new things gradually and to teach them vital skills to help them cope with new experience­s.”


Owners holidaying with their dog for the first time should take into considerat­ion their pet’s needs. All dogs are individual­s with their own personalit­ies and needs so what is dog-friendly accommodat­ion will vary from dog to dog.

Owners should: Research the accommodat­ion type and whether dogs can access all parts of the accommodat­ion. Consider what mode of travel will be needed and how long the journey will be. Research the area and local walks to determine if it might be suitable for the dog. You should find out if it’s quiet or busy, if dogs can be walked on or off-lead, and whether there could be other animals or livestock in the area that may become frightened if the owner’s dog is off its lead.

Find out if your dog will be faced with new experience­s and environmen­ts while there which they will be able to cope with. This could include being on the beach for the first time or seeing livestock in the countrysid­e.

Car travel

If you’re set to travel further afield this summer, it’s a good idea to introduce your dogs to cars and car travel.

It’s important to make sure dogs are always safe and feel confident when travelling in the car, regardless of where they might be going.

Dog walkers

As many workers start to return to the office, owners may be considerin­g using a dog walker to break their dog’s day up. If your dog hasn’t come into contact with many people during the last year, they may be very wary of visitors.

You can train them to not react to a knock at the door or a doorbell, or encourage them to run to their bed when they hear a knock at the door.

You can then start to have people round so your dog gets used to other people being in your home, and reward your dog for good behaviour.

NOISE and fireworks

Public fireworks displays were cancelled last year, meaning many puppies acquired during the past 12 months won’t have experience­d the mass of loud bangs and whizzes which dogs can find stressful and scary.

November may seem like a long way off, but the key to preventing noise fears is to prepare early and you can do things now such as making sure your home is secure and creating a safe hiding place if your pooch gets scared.

Doing some preparatio­n around loud noises generally is helpful, especially as it will be getting busier out and about, and dogs can feel worried by noises such as traffic.

Being left alone

It’s important we continue to teach our dogs to cope with being left alone to prevent separation anxiety developing, as many of them will have had very little time away from us for the past year.

You can train your dog to settle down and relax before you leave, by rewarding relaxed behaviours, and delaying when they get the reward to encourage them to stay relaxed for longer. One of the main reasons why dogs are handed into Dogs Trust is because of behaviour-related issues that could have been prevented early on. A rise in problemati­c behaviours due to lockdown measures, such as separation anxiety, could mean families have no other option but to give up their dog. Dogs Trust Dog School is back running face-to-face training classes to help prepare dogs for normal life. Visit its website for more details.

For our dogs, suddenly emerging into the world could be especially confusing

Dr Rachel Casey

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