Lee Connor: A dog is for life – not just for lockdown

Hopefully, puppy training classes will resume as soon as they can

Hopefully, puppy training classes will resume as soon as they can - Credit: Archant

I've noticed a lot of new puppies when out walking around the Bay, and the strangeness of these times was certainly hammered home recently when, walking towards a gorgeously floppy Dalmatian puppy, she playfully rushed towards me and - fighting against my normal instincts - I had to back away from her friendly advances.

Puppies need socialisation

Puppies need socialisation - Credit: Archant

It's a dilemma lots of these new owners must be facing; how on earth do you socialise a puppy during a pandemic?

Socialising is one of the most important tasks of being a responsible dog owner.

Getting them out and about, used to the sights, smells and sounds and getting them accustomed to strange dogs and people. Good socialisation makes for happy, well-rounded dogs.

In ordinary times, I would advise every new puppy owner - once vaccinations are finished - to enrol with their local puppy class, like the one we attended every Tuesday in Newton Abbot.

However, these aren't ordinary times - far from it - and with social distancing challenges, who knows when such classes will reappear.

But don't despair; there's still a lot you can do to future-proof your puppy ready for the noisy, frenetic world that it will encounter post-lockdown.

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For a start, you're incredibly fortunate to live in Torbay with access to many different environments; seaside, countryside and bustling town walks are all easily experienced literally from your doorstep.

Just by taking your new family member out and about you can, with lots of encouragement, easily accustom them to things like children riding bikes, kites being flown, seagulls, buses, cars, people and other dogs without being scared by them.

Even if it means just carrying them around – it's all worthwhile.

By slowly building your pup's confidence and exposing him/her to a variety of new experiences, possibly with the use of some treats, it'll help lay an important foundation for you to build upon later when the restrictions are eventually lifted:

• the internet is your friend - there are numerous forums and Facebook groups that can provide valuable help and advice

• South Devon-based dog food company Forthglade has produced an excellent blog called #PrepForPup which is crammed full of valuable advice for the new owner

• Edition Dog Magazine is filled with advice and top tips on raising your pup from canine experts.