Dip in puppy training raises concerns

Rachel Tung from the Cranbourne Lost Dogs' Home with Apple Crumble. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 254223_01

Victorians are choosing to delay puppy training or worse still avoiding puppy training classes as the virtual world starts to take a toll on dog owners.

Puppy training classes at The Lost Dogs’ Home (which are currently online) have fallen by a massive 80 per cent as Victorians choose to wait for the return of face-to-face classes.

The trend is particularly worrying as the rate of adoptions in pandemic times have surged.

‘’What this means is that there are potentially hundreds if not thousands of young or juvenile animals in our community missing out on important socialisation,’’ said the Home’s behaviour trainer Seren Robinson.

‘’We were running at least five classes simultaneously before lockdown and now that has almost completely dropped off.”

She said a similar drop was seen last year with many dogs missing out on appropriate training and socialisation in the critical period before 16 weeks of age.

‘’A lot of people are under the impression that there is no value to training unless it’s in person which really isn’t true,” Ms Robinson said.

“A huge part of the training process is a discussion of the dog’s behavioural history and setting up owners with the tools to continue their management and training at home.

“There are also unique benefits to training online as your dog is likely to be far more comfortable and less distracted in their familiar home environment.”

Ms Robinson said the situation was similar for many other behaviour specialists in the State.

‘’We are likely to see a huge increase in demand again once restrictions ease, with all the people that have been putting off training trying to book at once,’’ she said.

‘’Anecdotally, over the past year or two we have seen dogs that present as what you might expect ‘covid puppies’ would, dogs from the ages of 6-18 months with behavioural issues that may correlate to a lack of early socialisation with people and/or dogs or issues around independence.’’