Puppies are not just for lockdown: tips that every new pup owner needs to know

  • 01 Jan, 2021
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There’s no denying just how cute a new puppy can be and how much joy they bring into your life. They're the perfect antidote to the lockdown blues (link to lockdown happiness article). It's important to remember that dogs are a long-lasting commitment and should not be bought without giving it a lot of thought and doing your research.

We want to promote responsible dog ownership and want all puppies to be happy and cherished in their new homes. Here are some useful tips for buying a new puppy.

Can I buy a puppy in lockdown?

Research from the Dogs Trust is clear that a lot of people have been doing just that! Google searches for the term ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 115% compared to before lockdown in March 2020. Prices increased dramatically, sadly fuelling a rise in dog thefts (link to dog theft article). Meanwhile, the specialist pet selling website, Pets4Homes, reported a 51 per cent increase in demand for puppies and "puppy for sale" searches.

But can you travel to collect a puppy in lockdown? When infection rates of COVID-19 are very high, the lockdown laws have stipulated that only essential travel is allowed. So, is picking up a puppy essential travel in UK communities?

The Kennel Club has issued detailed guidance for breeders which you can find here but it is different for the four nations of the UK so you should read it carefully. The general advice in England and Scotland, according to the Kennel Club, is that you cannot visit to view the pup before you agree to buy it. This can be done by video instead. As a business, breeders may be allowed to travel to deliver the pup. If this is not possible and if collection is necessary for the pup’s welfare, you may be able to travel to collect them. You must follow social distancing rules at all times, and must not enter the premises if it is a private home.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, pups cannot be viewed or collected but business breeders may be able to deliver puppies to new owners. Alternatively, commercial transporters that are licensed for dogs can be used.

How to buy a puppy responsibly

The Blue Cross has issued loads of sensible advice on how to buy a pup including advice on finding a responsible dog breeder. Start off by carrying out an internet search for ‘licensed dog breeders near me’ and then work through a list of checks. Here are some examples of signs that the breeder is legitimate:

- Plenty of information is supplied on the advert
- They encourage you to come and view your puppy
- They will question you about why you want a pup and about what sort of home you can provide them with
- They are happy to provide vet’s details and health certificates
- They provide advice on house training and socialisation and are happy to offer on-going support
- They provide pet insurance for the first few weeks

And here are some warning signs that indicate that you should walk away:

- Will only meet you in a public place and not their home/kennels
- No proof provided of vaccination, worming or health checks
- Puppy is not micro-chipped

When you first get your new pup

The first few weeks with a new pup can go by in a blur! They need a lot of energy and attention. You will need to teach them some basic things. You will want to learn how to train a puppy to pee outside in the very early days. This will be followed by some basic commands and discouraging unwanted behaviour!

How to toilet train a puppy

Here’s how to toilet train your puppy in six easy steps. Don’t forget, it needs patience and perseverance and expect a few accidents!

1. Take your pup outside regularly. This may have to be every hour in the early days. Give them plenty of praise (and a tasty treat) when they poo or pee outside.
2. Learn the signs that they need to go to the toilet. Some pups pace and circle, some sniff the ground and others go to the door and whine. They may also start to squat. This is most likely to happen after naps and mealtimes.
3. Always use the same spot. Take them to the same area and always use the same door. They will learn to go to that door when they need to poop or pee.
4. Go with them. They learn a lot better if you are outside with them. Be prepared to spend a lot of time outside your home in the early days and weeks!
5. Stay outside a little longer. You don’t want your pupper to think that doing a pee outside means the end of a fun game – this will just put them off!
6. Go outside less. Once they seem to get the idea, start going outside less often. Keeping a daily poop and pee diary can help you to learn what times of the day they need to go.

Never punish your dog for going to the toilet inside. It can be a huge nuisance to clear up but remember they are not doing it on purpose!

How to train a puppy not to bite

Pups will instinctively bite objects and use their mouths to explore things. But as their teeth get bigger and sharper, this is not something that you will want them to do to your body or clothes.

From a very young age, you must teach your pup to control this behaviour – it’s called bite inhibition. Here are some things that you can try:

- Make a noise! A high-pitched human shriek when a pup bites does a lot to put them off.

- Offer a substitute. Offer your pup a chew or a toy instead.

- Find some pooch friends. Young dogs soon learn boundaries when playing with older dogs.

- Time out. Stop the game and walk away. Your little pooch will learn that biting brings the fun to an end.

Life with a new pup is exciting and exhausting. But with a few simple tips and tricks, you can make it a whole lot easier on both of you. Good luck!

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