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The last twelve months have been very challenging for everyone and it is a great relief that the end of COVID restrictions seems to be creeping ever nearer. Living through a global pandemic has not had many positives but having more time to spend at home getting on with all those things we have put off due to lack of time has to be one of them. When the first lockdown was announced at the end of March 2020 many of us had more time on our hands than we knew what to do with. For some people this seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally enter the world of dog ownership and there was a surge in demand for puppies of all shapes and sizes. Breeders’ waiting lists soared and puppy prices rose to figures commonly in the thousands.

As demand and purchase prices have risen so have dog thefts with 2020 seeing reported incidents of the crime more than doubling. Many stolen pets are used for intensive breeding on puppy farms or sold on for large sums of money. There is no easy solution to this heart-breaking crime but there are a number of measures that all dog owners should take, the most important of which is to have your pet microchipped. This is a legal requirement so there is no excuse for not having it done. You should make sure your garden is secure and never leave your dog unattended in it and when out walking keep your dog under close control and in view at all times.

A year on from lockdown one, how are the “pandemic puppies” faring? For many the answer to this question would be very well but sadly a significant number have behavioural issues that their owners are now contending with. The first few weeks of a puppy’s life are critical for socialisation so that it grows into a happy well-adjusted family pet, with weeks three to fourteen being the most important. During this time they need to learn that it is OK to be left on their own, but many dogs have spent the entirety of 2020 with a human companion by their side. If and when owners have to return to the office many of these puppies will struggle with separation anxiety which is distressing for both dog and owner. Socialisation is also when puppies learn how to cope with a whole range of encounters including other dogs, children, strangers, visitors to the house and busy traffic to name a few. Most lockdown puppies were deprived of these experiences during the critical weeks with the result that many have significant behavioural problems that need addressing. If you are struggling with your now adolescent puppy’s tricky behaviour do not despair because you are most certainly not alone! Your local veterinary practice should be your first port of call for advice, with referral on to a qualified pet behaviourist if necessary.

So make sure that your dog is microchipped with up to date contact details and if you have any questions regarding your pet, whether behaviour-related or not, please contact us at www.facebook.com/eastgatevets