with 60% of new dog owners saying that they decided to adopt or purchase their pet as a direct result of the pandemic, many fear for the longevity of these pups’ ‘forever homes’
The past two years have seen a record increase in pet ownership amongst the UK population, and it is not hard to guess why. A report in March 2021 from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association counted a total of 3.2 million new pet owning households in the UK since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the numbers continue to rise.
Dominic Lill, journalist and owner of the blog ‘The Dogs’; offering expert advice and information to dog owners, is concerned about the implications of this huge rise in dog ownership when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of our country’s pooches.
‘Owning a dog is a long-term commitment, which requires an owner to offer love, care, and attention to their canine friend for the whole of its life which, if you acquire a young, healthy dog; should be years!’ Lill says. ‘I worry that many of the new dog owners who purchased or adopted pets during the pandemic may not have necessarily been looking ahead at this long-term commitment, and moreover, many may have jumped into their new role of dog owners without proper preparation and research into how to properly look after their new pets. This spate of impulse pet-purchases could have a drastic effect on the wellbeing of thousands of dogs!’
The Dogs conducted a survey to learn more about the trends in dog ownership post-pandemic. 30% of dog owners surveyed said that they had become dog owners after the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, with a huge 60% of these saying that they had spent less than 6 months seriously planning for the arrival of their new canine friend, including researching breeds and planning for lifestyle factors around dog ownership. 60% of those questioned felt that the Coronavirus pandemic had been a major factor in their decision to become a dog owner, and although a reassuring 66% of respondents said that they had felt very prepared to become dog owners, a sizeable 26% answered that they only felt moderately prepared, whilst a worrying 6% admitted to learning the requisite skills for dog ownership ‘on the job’.
Back in 1978, the charity Dogs Trust (then known as the National Canine Defence League) penned the slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ in response to the flurry of pet purchases that they noticed around Christmas each year, resulting in a huge upturn in dog abandonments in the months that followed. The ‘dog is for life not just for Christmas’ campaign continues to this day. Dogs Trust reports that they receive a phone call every six minutes from someone wanting to give up their dog, and they therefore urge the public through annual campaigns not to purchase a dog on impulse, as these purchases so often end in abandonment. Post-pandemic, however, Dogs Trust and similar charities promoting the protection of animals have a whole new concern- from the perspective of new dog ownership, a coronavirus lockdown is like an extended Christmas, with thousands of dogs finding homes that just may not be forever!
Lill advises new potential dog owners to think of the long-term. ‘If the prospect of a few months stuck at home in lockdown encourages you to become a dog-owner, please think carefully about the implications’, he says, ‘though you may have more time and energy to look after your new furry friend while you don’t have the pressure of commuting or travelling, try and picture what life will be like post-lockdown, and think carefully about whether a dog fits into this picture. Will you still have time for daily walks and emergency vet visits?’ Lill also advises members of the public to remember the financial implications of owning a dog. ‘The initial purchase is not the only cost incurred- you will need to pay to feed your dog, and will need to provide it with toys and other items to keep it both comfortable and entertained. Vet’s bills can also be very expensive. Make sure you look carefully at your finances before purchasing a dog, and that includes taking into consideration any financial instability or changes to your finances that the pandemic may cause- as it has done for so many people!’
‘That is not to say that purchasing a dog in lockdown is always a bad thing. When looked after properly, dogs can be the most amazing addition to your household, filling your home with constant fun, love and joy. Owning a dog can be great for your mental health, and for those struggling with anxiety or other related issues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, owning a dog can help you to focus your attention on a positive outlet and can also add structure and substance to difficult days, as regular walks and feedings are important to adhere to.’
Lill believes that, although a dog can indeed be an amazing addition to your life, it is important not to go into a decision to purchase a new pet lightly.
‘The most important thing to consider is that you are properly prepared for everything that dog ownership entails and that you have really done your research to support this. Dog breeds are important to consider, as different breeds will have different requirements as well as different temperaments, and you should always take care to choose the breed that will fit in best with your lifestyle in the long-term.’
Dominic Lill’s Blog ‘The Dogs’ gives you all the information you could possibly need to know about owning a dog, from breeds, to training tips, to recommendations for dog friendly cafes and restaurants to visit with your furry friend. Read the blog here: https://thedo.gs/