At a time when puppy enquiries are going through the roof and sales are at an all-time high, I started to wonder if puppy buyers really know what they’re letting themselves in for.
With the pandemic, so much of the population now finds themselves at home or able to work from home and with the daily exercise allowance our only source of escape even for a limited time is to go for a walk. Along with the beautiful weather we’re seeing, an unprecedented amount of people are enjoying the great outdoors.
Due to this many families have now decided it’s time to add a four legged family member to their homes.
In many ways it really is a lovely time to bring a puppy home, you’ve time at home as a family to adore your new baby and get them into toilet training and help them to socialise well with any other dogs you may already have BUT have you thought through the implications on the pup when we do all get back to the new kind of normal this virus will bring for us?
I’m worried that once that gate opens and the horses bolt as they inevitably will, we’re going to be left with soooo many puppies and even older dogs with major separation anxiety and other issues such as destruction of the home and mass toileting around the house that maybe wasn’t an issue while you we with them 24/7.
Before you make that call to a breeder to enquire about a new fluffy bundle, just look to what the future could possibly hold for you work wise. Might you have to change jobs? Might you have to work longer hours to increase your stability? Is there something you can put in place such as doggy day care or a dog walker to meet that time gap for your pooch or from having your attention 24/7 is the little fella now going to be expected to behave for increasingly long hours at home alone?
Once you’ve made the call that the pitter patter of four little feet is absolutely needed in your life its worth putting into plan a little routine more like your normal working life to help your pup settle into a life that won’t change dramatically when you return to your life of work.
I always say this to my new puppy owners whether they’re home all day or work, a pup that cries in the night really does need to be ignored. It’s the hardest thing to do when that tiny baby is yelping at 2 am but you really do make a rod for your own back if you start to go down through the night to comfort the dog, you’ll reassure the dog that such behaviour is acceptable and in turn make the dog believe that they can continue the behaviour long term. Provided the dog has comfy bed, maybe a soft toy or two, for me preferably in a crate or cage so you know they’re safe from household dangers- the pup should be left and they will soon cotton on that screaming in the night doesn’t gain anything but wohoo when I wake up in the morning the people will come with huge hugs and cuddles for me! The age old ethos of ignoring the bad behaviour and rewarding the good.
If you’re daily routine is to be out for a few hours during the day, try to stick to this sort of routine with pup from the off. Again this is much easier if you’re crate training. Put pup to bed for a few hours while you potter around upstairs maybe or leave the tv on in the room they’re in and keep out of that room as best you can for a while. You want to create a feeling of security for the dog that, although yes you’re leaving them alone, you will come back to them. When you do return, create lots of fuss and praise on the dog and take the pup straight outside for their toilet which again, will be full of praise and fuss for them when they toilet outdoors.
Pups aren’t being socialised as early as they might be due to the restrictions on getting vaccinations sorted and the obvious lock down and self-isolation restrictions. But that doesn’t stop us sitting in the garden with the pup or at the front door and while holding the pup in your arms you can expose the pup to the sounds and smells of the outside world. The sound of passing cars etc. You can even go online and download playlists of socialisation noises for pups. The Kennel Club website has a few recommendations on puppy socialisation too so that’s worth a look.
The key to raising a balanced dog is security and routine. If you can crack both of those before this lock down is over you’ll be laughing your way to the park with your happy pooch!!
I am just back from my first trip out in over ten days and I am traumatised !!
I had a puppy to deliver North around 150 miles away for an amazing family introduced to us through someone else who has a bulldog from our lines.
We have chatted over facetime, viewed one another’s houses, gardens and met each family member. It’s actually been quite a positive experience and one I intend to continue to be fair, so that wasn’t at all my trauma.
Waving my goodbyes ( from a safe 2m distance obvs) I was a bit chocked up and on passing a Tesco store enroute home, I decided to risk calling in for a comfort break and to grab some necessities that had been missed from our home delivery the night before.
I started off well putting on my disposable gloves as I left my van, found a trolley on the car park and being helpful set off with it towards the open door way. BOOM first mistake!
A smiley but firm body builder type security lady stopped me in my tracks and made me walk the windy snakey line, almost like the one you get at the airport while you wait in line for check in only not as well posted, to the other side of the open door way. There, a little lad looking like something out of a horror movie jumped out in front of the bodybuilder security lady and asked me to step away from my trolley as it hadn’t been sanitised. He swung another trolley at me and sent me on my way… shesshhh all these blue arrows and new etiquette (monkeyface emoji with hands over the eyes). I am not 100% established in the previous etiquette of shopping, I’m now totally thrown!
As I walk through the aisles, Steve rings to ask something and nothing. I feel like everyone’s eyes are on me as I saunter down the newspaper aisle speaking to him while perusing which magazine to buy my grandma this week to save her going entirely doolaly stuck in at home.
I quickly hang up on him when I realise that the lady next to me is a bit too close for my liking, not observing the blue arrows as requested on entrance to the store and therefore sending my anxiety through the roof that I might catch something from her breath spittle. I need to get what I need and get out of there!
I tried really hard to ignore my bladder, no way did I want to risk sharing germs with the great unwashed in the public loo’s but in the end I had to give in and asked the lady at customer services to watch my freshly sanitised trolley for me while I nipped to spend a penny.
It was a bit like a challenge from the old tv show gladiators attempting to cross paths with people coming away from the check outs. As I carefully worked my way through to the bright green “toilets” sign at the top of the store, I wanted to hold my breath, drop to the floor army style and crawl my way nimbly. If I thought for one minute my unfit body would have actually handled such a manoeuvre I may have done it just for a laugh but after over 3 weeks at home munching the way through our rations like there’s no tomorrow I didn’t dare risk getting down for fear I would roll rather than crawl and not be able to get back up. Instead I tried not to make eye contact while I “excuse me’d” my way through ignoring the tuts that I was following the arrows all wrong and declaring loudly that I just needed to pee and promises that I wouldn’t breath on anyone.
Safely into the customer toilets, washing my hands still gloved I felt very accomplished at being “antibacterial” about literally everything. I unzipped and relieved my now very happy bladder.
The next trauma came as I tried to re fasten my jeans. I whipped them back up and boom, caught the finger of my glove in the zipper and ripped the finger clean off !!! (the glove finger… not my own human finger !)
No one teaches you how to do practical things with these gloves on !! So now, finger torn and feeling exposed and giggling with nerves, I head back, hands in pockets to the customer services lady to retrieve my trolley. She looks at me like I’m clearly deranged as I approach her now full giggle and I dangle my naked finger to her with the ripped glove dangling. I saved her from the vison of the extra piece of glove now firmly fixed in the zipper of my jeans. She kindly smiles and without a word hands me a box of fresh gloves and I take them gratefully.
Now back on my blue arrowed road I make my way around the aisles, following the silent people with trolleys in front of me and carefully ensuring I don’t over step the two metre rule. I’m almost done when I decide to ring my elderly neighbour next door and just check she’s not in need of a door step parcel of rations. She gives me a list of things including flour and parsnips, all of which are back in the direction I’ve just come from, so not thinking I swing round and head down the aisle I’ve just come from- OH MY WORD!! …. The horror on the faces of the oncoming traffic was enough to bring me to a grinding halt. I quickly 180’d the trolley back around and zipped my way the full length of the store to work my way back through the arrows and find my way my way to the items I’d previously walked passed.
Trolley now loaded, I am so relieved to see empty conveyor belts with staff behind their little safety screens smiling as I approach one, she looks at me nervously and jerks her head to the left, as I look an assertive looking manager type with a head phone gestures to the top of the store where another airport type system is in place to bring you round to the check out … dutifully I nod, not a word is passed and I head through the snakes and ladders system once more to come to another lady behind a screen “how are you today?” she politely asks as I start to throw my items onto the belt like I’m now in some sort of race.
Stressed !! I reply laughing, it’s all very stressful.
With that, efficient lady barks at me “stand on the cross please” as I look down there’s a cross six inches to my left to be stood on while unloading your shopping, I jumped on it and then asked permission of my cashier lady to move round to re pack the shopping she had just scanned she smiled and nodded. By now, my anxiety is in my chest and I bugger the blue arrows and run with my trolley back to the sanctuary of my van and my antibac spray which I use liberally like I’m spraying the free tester pot or my favourite expensive perfume in Debenhams (RIP)
Sheshhhhh, I rang Steve as I pulled out from the car park, handsfree of course and said never ever again!! The panic of not knowing what was expected or what I should be doing, the anxiety of not wanting anyone to look at me or touch me or even be within 2 metres of me, the imagining of little germ like creatures sat on every persons clothing ready to jump on mine and infect me and my family almost flea like was just too much. And the silence ! No one wanted to make eye contact or even smile at one another, almost like that’s an admission of fear or weakness and the virus can infiltrate it like all the horror films you’ve ever watched rolled into one !!
I arrived home a few hours later and dived in the shower literally as soon as I walked through the door, straight back in my comfys and the sanctuary of home. I won’t be leaving again until the world is back to normal and I can happily lick the faces of my loved ones again without fear of retribution and all the blue crosses have disappeared into oblivion J
I first write my apology.
It's been weeks since I wrote a post and the main reason, and I know you may not believe this, I just didn't know what to say!
I have no idea whats going on in the world, its like all the horror films you've ever watched rolled into one and if I'm being really truthful with you, its taken me till now to fully digest it. I'm no further on with regards to how to process whats happening but I am definitely coping.
One thing thats helped massively is my wonderful lovely clients, those who have kept in touch with their litter pictures, those who have messaged their concerns both for the pandemic and how it will affect them along with the usual calls I get to help with problem puppies or advice on labour. They've really kept me going and just knowing we're all in this together, as breeders and a human race is comforting. We need to keep talking, keep supporting and keep communicating together. To help this I have opened our new group North West Breeders Network for my clients to chat, share and support one another through their litters. If you're not already part of that community get yourself added in.
I write this post now having completed a 200 mile round trip a few days ago to deliver my litter of bulldog puppies to their new homes.
I felt like Santa on Christmas eve, only better because I got to stick around and see the kid’s faces when they saw their new puppy for the first time.
You see this litter has been very different to any of my others. All the visits have been done via facetime or pictures and videos and it’s a new thing for me to deliver pups rather than new families heading over to POB HQ to collect their new baby.
It’s been a different experience but I have to say one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and I actually think I may continue with similar practices in the future !
It’s meant I can meet family members over facetime calls that I may never have met had just the immediate family come to visit the pups. I’ve had the opportunity over the pictures, videos and calls to nosy round people’s homes with them and show them round ours. They’ve met all the dogs in their natural state rather than them bouncing round like buffoons cos “new people are here so let’s all play up!” as children and animals inevitably do.
I’ve actually built really nice friendships with my new families that I believe will mean going forward a great “working” relationship will develop much easier than had we only met once or twice and just shared the odd photo. Which surely is better for the pup?
I made sure all contracts and guidance sheets were emailed prior to delivery and all financial transactions had been cleared in advance.
With new guidance shared today by the Kennel Club it seems the processes are expected to be adopted by all breeders during this period of restriction and uncertainty and I think provided we all stay sensible, it could work really well!
I have written about the new guidelines and my understanding of them in my new email drop, if you’d like to subscribe just add your email address to the pop up here on the website and you’ll be added to the next drop.
I'll leave you for now with the commitment to not leave it so long before I post again.
Please continue to talk, share and most importantly stay safe!