Pandemic puppies have become the craze as families in lockdown welcome new pets, writes Marian Duggan.
Ballyhaunis-based Lucie Kavanagh is a volunteer with Mayo SPCA, and while she is delighted to see families use lockdown to train new arrivals, she is worried about what will happen to the animals when normal family life resumes. Going from human interaction all day to an empty house could result in separation anxiety for young dogs, but there are ways to prepare for this, advises Ms Kavanagh, who herself fosters and adopts animals.
“Every year in January, shelters have people returning puppies they got for Christmas because they are unmanageable,” she said. “In order to prevent that happening when lockdown ends and families go back to school and work, if we prepare puppies now, it might limit their anxiety.
“If you have a baby gate, let your puppy gradually get used to playing in one room while everyone else is engaged elsewhere. Set up a crate or corner that belongs solely to the puppy, not to shut him in, but to recognise as his spot and safe area with security blankets, toys.”
Getting your puppy used to other dogs is also important.
“Taking walks in a nearby town or park can help the puppy to be familiar and comfortable to see and pass other people and dogs. Even coming in the car for short errands can help with this. In short, let your puppy see as much of the world as possible.”
The pandemic has allowed some volunteers to give more time to the charity, but the charity’s ability to fundraise has been severely affected.