Well, what a 12 months we’ve just had. For humans, it’s been stressful, sad, frustrating and sometimes lonely. For pets, it has been a whole new world as well.
Pet Ownership Goes Crazy
As a dog trainer, I constantly had to juggle with how we provided our services: no classes, then online-only, then outdoor classes again, then indoor, then no classes except online again. All depending on what the guidelines were allowing.
We still increased the bookings for puppies year on year, from 170 to 220. Most of the other services had to be cut back or became simply sporadic.
Things went totally crazy with pet ownership, however.
Suddenly people started thinking that if they were staying at home, they could have a new puppy or a rescue dog or kitten or rescue cat. The sale of rodents, particularly guinea pigs, went through the roof.
The Dog’s Trust had a 62% increase in calls from people wanting to rehome a dog compared to last year! The RSPCA recorded 30 million unique views on their Find a Pet service between March and October 2020. It was 18 million in the same period the previous year!
The sale of puppies also jumped dramatically. At one point, around 10% of all households in the UK were investigating getting a puppy. For every puppy available in May 2020, 420 prospective buyers were vying to get hold of it!
And the demand for overseas rescue puppies also increased. The Kennel Club recorded an almost 100% increase in the legal importing of puppies. And then, of course, there was the illegal activity – we’ll never know the numbers, but this area also increased dramatically.
How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?
And as expected, when something is in short supply, the price of the goods goes up. The estimated average price of a puppy in 2019 was £800. In 2020, it was £1,800. Puppies, however, were making far more than these amounts. Breeds normally sold at around £1,500 were bringing £2,000-£3,000.
A great time for puppy farms for sure, but a sad time for some of those that went ahead and bought one. Here are some of the problems they encountered:
- Sick puppies from breeders breeding to earn quick money.
- Puppies handed over that were younger than advertised.
- Puppies not the being the breed that they were advertised as.
- Deposits given and lost for puppies that didn’t exist.
- Price increases happening last minute or on collection.
And a Year On
Not unsurprisingly, some people have regretted their hasty decision. A lot of people quickly concluded that they had made a mistake. Some tried to sell on their pups that were rather more unruly teenagers (remember, an ethical breeder will always take their pups back).
Unfortunately though, puppies are a bit like new cars in that once these leave the forecourt, a significant percentage of their value is wiped off. A buyer is very unlikely to recoup anywhere near the same amount for a puppy once it is past the age of 12 weeks.
Other have been contacting the local and national rescue organisations to ask for help or about giving up their young dog. The Dog’s Trust had 114 calls on the two days after the Christmas Bank Holiday from people wanting to pass their dogs on. Nearly 20% of these were under nine months.
Why Has This Happened?
According to a recent Kennel Club survey, 33% of the people rushing to get new puppies were often new dog owners and 20% didn’t consider the long term responsibilities of owning a dog.
The sort of reasons for giving up a dog include:
- The shock of having a puppy and children home full-time: teaching children and watching over a pup is hard work.
- Finding that working from home doesn’t always mean you have lots of free time for a new puppy.
- Going from furloughed to redundant or having a business fail and being unable to afford the puppy.
- The strain during a pandemic resulting in an increase in failed relationships and puppies finding themselves without a home.
- A huge number of puppies, never having been left alone become stressed and destructive when their owners have to go back to work.
So, What Is the Answer?
There are plenty of ways to help the owner and puppy return to a more harmonious relationship.
The first thing I would do is seek some professional help. It’s quite possible that owners and puppy have painted themselves into a bit of a corner and simply need an expert to guide them.
Coping with puppies as they turn into teenagers can often be a trying time. However, there is no reason, given some guidance and help, that the majority of owners can’t make it to the other side and create an obedient and happy adult dog.
We hope you enjoyed reading our article “Lockdown – What a Time for Dogs!”. If you’d like to read more of our articles about looking after your dog, click here.