Aggressive behaviour seen in many pandemic puppies

Two barking puppies

Puppies that were bought during lockdown had fewer opportunities to meet new people and go to training classes, and vets are concerned that for some dogs this may have impacted their development.

An estimated 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet in the first year of the pandemic. Pandemic puppy owners were more likely to be first-time dog owners, and were less likely to seek out a breeder that performed health testing on their breeding dog(s), or to view their puppy in-person.

In a survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), half of vets reported a rise in the number of clients concerned about their dogs’ increasingly aggressive behaviour over the last 12 months.

In cases where the age of the dog was known, 87% were believed to be under three years old — highlighting the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on puppies bought over lockdown. Almost one in four (24%) vets also reported an increase in the number of pets they had treated in the last 12 months who were injured as a result of aggressive behaviour by dogs.

“Whilst these new statistics are extremely worrying, they are not unexpected,” said Justine Shotton, senior vice president of the BVA. “Vets and animal charities have been raising concerns around the long-term impacts of the pandemic puppy boom, when owners were unable to access adequate training and socialisation opportunities that are so important for development in the first few months of their lives.”

The BVA has urged pet owners who are concerned about their dog’s behaviour to talk to their vet, who will be able to check for any underlying medical issues that could be causing issues, give advice and make a referral to a veterinary behaviourist.

“Don’t delay seeking help, as poor behaviour can deteriorate and can become harder to deal with as a dog matures,” Shotton added.

If you’re planning to buy a puppy, use the Puppy Contract to make sure you’re buying a healthy dog from a responsible source. And give your puppy lots of positive opportunities for socialisation with people of all ages and other animals, as well as different environments and various noises.

With dog insurance from Purely Pets, you’ll have access to a pet symptom checker, pet treatment plans and video consultations with a fully qualified vet whenever you need them.

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