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24 Apr Buying a puppy during lockdown

As a result of social distancing measures, record numbers of people are staying at home during the day. And with that, searches for ‘puppies for sale’ have also rocketed, with many people seeing it as the perfect opportunity to introduce a puppy to their home whilst being able to stay with it 24/7 during its early weeks.

However, it’s not quite that simple, nor is it a decision that should be taken at all lightly.

Can I buy a puppy during lockdown?

The short answer is, no. The process of buying a puppy responsibly requires plenty of travel and human interaction that is prohibited under lockdown. We’ve identified the main areas where you would potentially encounter issues when buying a puppy whilst social distancing measures are in place:

Travel to and from the breeder on multiple occasions

When you buy a puppy from a responsible breeder, you would expect to visit them on multiple occasions – at least once when the puppies are young, when you’ll most likely ‘reserve’ the puppy of your choice, and on at least one more occasion to pick the puppy up. Many new owners will want to visit their puppy more regularly, to establish an early bond and ensure that the breeder is taking good care of the puppies.

This travel is not considered to be ‘essential travel’ and is therefore ruled out under current social distancing measures in the UK.

Human interaction involved with visiting and buying the puppy

Almost all ethically and legally bred puppies are bred at the breeder’s home. This means that you would need to visit someone else’s home, which is currently prohibited in the UK, and interact with them. Even if you did maintain social distancing whilst at their home, the virus could theoretically stick to and spread from the puppy’s fur.

Limited veterinary services

Veterinary services have been limited as a result of social distancing measures, however on the 14th April 2020, the British Veterinary Association released guidance stating that primary vaccinations and year one boosters in dogs could go ahead as an essential service, as well as the dispensary of flea and worm treatments. Microchipping is allowed to be carried out if the puppy is already at the practice for another service. 

It is important that you ensure your puppy has had all the relevant veterinary attention, including any tests for inherited conditions that may affect whether you would buy the puppy in the first place.

Brown puppy looking up wearing a PitPat

I chose a puppy before social distancing and they are now old enough to come home

If you had already chosen and/or paid for a puppy before lockdown, and they are now old enough to leave their mothers, it is best to continue to follow social distancing rules, as outlined above. This would mean your puppy may need to stay with your breeder until lockdown has lifted, at the very least. 

Many breeders will expect to keep the puppies longer than normal and will be in touch to let you know what their plans are. Some breeders are offering to deliver puppies that are ready for their new homes under certain circumstances.

For puppies between 8 and 12 weeks of age, the extra time spent in the litter can be a good thing, allowing them greater socialisation with their mother and littermates. However, since socialisation with other dogs and people will be limited, you will need to ensure you pay close attention to this when they do eventually come home to prevent future issues.

Can I buy a puppy once lockdown has lifted?

Whilst there is no clear guidance from the government on what activities will be allowed as lockdown is lifted, it’s safe to assume that the sale of puppies would be allowed to recommence once social distancing measures have been relaxed to allow non-essential travel and to allow people to visit each other.

However, there are still a few key considerations you need to be aware when deciding the get a puppy:

Lucy’s Law

Lucy’s law came into force on the 7th April 2020, during the lockdown period. It requires dogs and cats to be born and raised in a safe environment alongside their mothers and to be sold from their place of birth. It is there to help put an end to puppy farms and unethical treatment of baby animals and their parents. 

The UK government has compiled a list of warning signs to look out for when looking to buy a puppy.

A puppy is for life, not just for lockdown

As tempting as it may be to buy a dog whilst you are spending a lot of time at home, as things return to normal you need to be sure you are prepared to cope with the realities (and the cost) of having a dog. You still need to provide companionship, exercise, training, food, and grooming – and you’ll need to be able to manage all of this around your day-to-day life. This could mean ensuring your puppy has a dog sitter during the day, which can be costly.

Your puppy’s exercise needs

Whilst you’re on lockdown, it may seem easy to ensure your puppy is getting the right amount of exercise – after all, you’ve got time on your hands to exercise them and their needs at this age are still limited. However, as they grow, they’ll need more exercise and you’ll need to make sure that you can provide this. You can start tracking their exercise with a PitPat dog activity monitor and get a tailored goal that automatically adjusts as your puppy gets older.

Buying a puppy is a big commitment under any circumstances and bringing one into your home in today’s climate is no different. If you do decide to welcome a puppy in, make sure you are fully prepared by reading our puppy resources – get started with our article ‘Everything you need to know before getting a puppy.’

It’s always worth considering adopting a dog rather than buying a puppy – if this is something you are considering, check out our guide to adopting a dog during lockdown for more information on which animal welfare charities are still operating a rehoming service and what you would need to prepare. Alternatively, if you’re not sure whether you are able or ready to make a long term commitment to a dog, why not consider fostering a dog during lockdown?

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