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A plea from a post-pandemic puppy

For the past 50 years animal welfare and improving the lives of homeless animals that come into our care, have been a top priority at NAWT. COVID-19 has presented us all with many challenges but now that restrictions have been lifted and we are all returning to a new normal, the pandemic has left a very worrying problem in its wake – serious behavioural problems in dogs and other animals.

It’s well publicised that during the lockdowns there was a surge in puppy buying – but sadly those puppies didn’t have the start to life that most dogs get and need because they missed out on important socialisation. Due to social distancing and isolation, these dogs didn’t have the opportunity to meet and play with other dogs or even encounter many people other than their owners. Not only that, but the places and sounds they were exposed to were very limited.

Cocker Spaniel Bob, was like so many puppies growing up through the pandemic. He had a very contented, quiet life with his owner who was always around for him, giving him love and attention. However, due to COVID restrictions he had little contact with other people and when the owner’s circumstances changed he struggled to deal with other humans in the household. In Bob’s best interest, his owner made the very difficult decision to hand him over to NAWT when he was 8 months old.

Like many dogs coming to NAWT at the moment, Bob was very scared around people he didn’t know. A dog’s body language can be a clear indication of how they are feeling. When Bob came to us, he was crouched low to the ground, wide eyed and grumbly. With the owner’s help, Bob gradually started to relax with one particular member of the team who was then able to very gradually introduce him to our Animal Carers one at a time and he learnt he could trust them too.

This lack of socialisation at such a vital time in a puppy’s development has resulted in some dogs becoming antisocial and suffering from anxiety issues as they are now exposed to crowds, unusual environments and other dogs for perhaps the first time. But that’s not all. During the lockdowns dogs have been used to the companionship of their owners staying home with them all day and they are now suffering from separation anxiety as their owners return to their places of work. This can show itself in behaviour such as howling and barking, toileting and being destructive, and in severe cases where owners can’t cope with the change, heartbreakingly leads to the dog being relinquished to an animal rehoming centre, like NAWT.

We have a policy of allowing an animal as long as they need to become ready for rehoming. However, as more and more dogs come into our centres with a range of different behavioural issues attributable to the fall-out from the pandemic, we need to spend much more time with each dog to prepare them for their future lives in a new loving home. And this comes at a big, additional cost to NAWT. Could you donate today to go towards the vital behavioural treatment nervous and anxious lockdown dogs like Bob need?

Bob’s journey is ongoing and he’s a real favourite among staff and will more than likely be enjoying his forever home by the time you read this letter. But Bob’s story shows how the pandemic has hugely impacted dogs psychologically and presented a new challenge to the animal carers at NAWT. On behalf of animals like Bob and all the animal carers, we’d like to say a huge thank you for your kindness which will help to turn the lives of these lockdown dogs around. Because of your generosity you will be securing a happier future for them. As we all look ahead to a brighter future, we’d like to wish you all good health and happiness, and thank you for continuing to support us in our milestone, 50th Anniversary year.

If you are able to donate whatever you can afford today, you’ll be contributing to animals like Bob having the behavioural treatment they need so they can be rehomed and live the happy life they deserve

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Comments

Great to hear about the work you are doing with Bob and other puppies facing similar circumstances. We took in a dog from a dogs home 23 years ago, she lived with us for 19.5 great years. Although she was fine in every aspect of her life behaviour one facet remained with her the whole period. When we first met her in the dogs home she cowered and howled when she was approached. Every time we produced the lead/bridle (through her life) she cowered and needed to be stroked while the bridle was placed on her. So I fully appreciate the impacts on a dogs feelings during the early period of their lives and applaud the work you are doing.

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