As the UK gradually eases out of lockdown and the various other Covid restrictions on a staged basis, things are going to seem pretty weird to many of us until we get used to the “new normal” at some point in the future.
For puppies that were bought and that grew up mainly or wholly during the pandemic and that have no other frame of reference for their day to day lives, things are apt to seem even weirder still.
Knowing how the end of lockdown will affect a pandemic puppy is important, and even then, mitigating potential issues won’t necessarily be plain sailing.
Prepare for how the end of lockdown will affect puppies bought during the pandemic by reading about these five things that are going to seem really weird to lockdown pups as we get back to normal.
Social distancing is certainly something that took a lot of getting used to for many people. While six feet distance was fairly intuitive to measure for many of us (and in some cases, expecting others to keep this far or further away was a positive experience when it comes to personal space, pandemic or not!) for others, it was a steep learning curve.
During the first month or two of social distancing, the UK population went through a sharp period of adjustment to this, but now social distancing is more or less intuitive; and this is what lockdown puppies are used to.
Assuming that more or less everyone follows or followed social distancing guidelines, it would be unusual for lockdown pups to have had strange people commonly coming within close proximity to them; other than briefly in passing, such as when walking along a pavement.
However, when the social distancing rules end, people will once more be left to their own devices in terms of determining appropriate distance from others, which means that lockdown puppies will suddenly find that people in general (including total strangers) will be much closer to them, and their owner, than the pup had any prior frame of reference for.
Some pups might not be bothered by this at all, some will find it exciting and think said people want to say hello (as this may well have been the only reason people they didn’t know got that close to them before) and some may be anxious or even defensive about it.
One thing that many people have missed due to social distancing is physical contact with others outside of their household or bubble. For people who are used to hugging their friends, shaking hands in professional interactions, and generally making physical contact with others as part of normal communication, being unable to do this was sorely missed.
When Covid social distancing rules are lifted, if you are one of the people who has very much missed all of these things or if that is what feels natural for you, a far higher level of physical contact between you and others is likely to come as something of a shock to your lockdown puppy.
Many lockdown puppies are likely to exhibit signs of jealousy over this, and may even act out and growl at or be difficult when you show physical affection to other people.
Bear this in mind and monitor your pup’s reactions and nip any problems in the bud before they become an issue.
While dog parks and popular dog walking spots were often busier in lockdown than normal as these were the types of places people went to exercise or to get out of the house when options were limited, they rarely became crowded due to their large size and the importance of people keeping a distance from each other.
As lockdown ends, places like this are actually likely to become less busy, but on the flipside, places your puppy might be very familiar with and used to seeing empty or not busy at all are going to become far more populous in their turn.
This includes places like the gardens of pubs that your pup may only have ever passed when empty, schools and colleges and the areas around them at start and finish times, cafes, and generally, all of the places people congregated in groups pre-pandemic.
This might result in your pup feeling daunted or territorial; and may mean that you would need to vary your walking routes at times, say, to avoid having to take your pup through a huge crowd of people waiting outside of a school’s gates.
People who tried to train their own puppies during lockdown achieved quite variable degrees of success, and access to organised training classes and instruction, even outside, was greatly limited or not available at all for the majority of the average lockdown puppy’s life.
Coupled with this, some lockdown puppy buyers never attempted to train their pup at all, with the intention to start from scratch with a training class when this once more became viable.
This means that both pups who have received some training and those who don’t know the meaning of the word “sit” are likely to be having their first introduction to formal education, group work, and in many cases, rules and boundaries as lockdown ends.
This should ultimately be very rewarding for all pups by the end of things, but is also likely to be quite a challenge for many at first.
Finally, few households managed to avoid seeing any change to their own work and/or school routines as a result of Covid; and having lots of time spent at home, either working from home or furloughed, is actually what made many people able to get their lockdown puppy in the first place.
But as people return to work from home working, not working, or only working outside of the home for a few hours a week, and as children and college students return to normal educational attendance, this is apt to be the most acutely strange thing to lockdown puppies, and one that will be hard for many of them to deal with.
Separation anxiety in lockdown puppies is already something that’s getting a lot of attention in the media and with dog welfare organisations, and the impact of this, and its longer-term implications, should not be overlooked.