19.07.2020 05:08 pm

London is one of the most dog friendly Cities in the world. We are so lucky to live in a Capital which offers acres of green space both in the centre and close by in residential areas.

Londoners welcome new pet owners to the fold.

The social life of a London dog is incredible. As a pet owner you will meet people across the Capital and expand your own social life. A really good tip is to have a look at The Dog vine and [The Londog] (https://thelondog.com/) blogs. They will give you an in-depth overview of life in London with a dog. For tips on pet friendly UK destinations have a look at Dotty 4 paws

However, during March 2020, pre-lockdown, on-line terms for ‘adopt a puppy’ increased by up to 133% and ‘buy a puppy’ by up to 120%. Even post-lockdown these figures still remain high. You walk down the street and you know when you see a ‘lockdown puppy’.

The simple economics of supply and demand has seen this surge of interest in new puppies be matched by a similar increase in puppy prices.

The Kennel Club has voiced its concern over this rapid increase in the cost of a puppy. Some pet owners have viewed it as breeders putting the business and maximising profit ahead of the welfare of dogs, especially during a time when finances have been squeezed anyway. What new pet owners also must be aware of, are the additional costs such as vaccinations as well as food, equipment, accessories and don’t forget treats. These costs all mount up. It really is like ‘having a child’.

Take the French Bulldog for example. Prices have rocketed due to ‘supply & demand’. Asking prices for this particular breed have sky rocketed by circa 100%. Depending on the breeder, prices can vary between £3-4,000. A massive financial commitment which should not be taken lightly. Other popular breeds include pugs, cockapoos, dachshunds as well as Labradors.

Some Londoners have preferred the ‘rescue dog’ route and charities such Wild At Heart Foundation have been busy uniting stray dogs from overseas with people in the UK. Check out the Wild at Heart Instagram account to read some amazing stories of people connecting with dogs and offering them a new beginning. The images themselves are heart warming and they do a tremendous job.

Bringing a dog into your London home is a huge commitment. A dog is part of the family and like children needs to be looked after. That includes walking a dog in all weather conditions, pouring rain, snow and of course being responsible by picking up their poo. That is why Dogs Trust has been concerned abut new pet owners. Pre and post lockdown, you speak to people or overhear someone say how they ‘have just adopted a puppy’ or ‘we are going to collect a puppy in a few days.’ How much do people actually research into breeds? Do they consider how much time it takes to train a puppy?

The children have been ‘asking’ their parents for months, even years to have a dog. They promise to walk the dog and clean up after it. What percentage really do take responsibility and not just for the short term? Most parents know the answer to this question. It is not a high figure. This then puts added pressure on the parents, many of whom both work and which can lead to the dog being returned to the breeder or taken to a charity for re-homing.

Life in London is stressful enough. We live at a fast pace and life post lockdown will only speed up again. Will you have time to properly train your puppy, take it for a walk, keep on top of vaccinations, grooming, as well as run around after children, taking them to school, sports training and matches as well as their busy social lives?

That is why Dogs Trust has amended their slogan:

“ A dog is for life, not just for lockdown.’

How true it is. There are already reports from fellow colleagues in the pet sector of people returning their pre-lockdown puppies. Some new pet owners have found it too much to juggle their own lives and fit in a dog. How unfair is that on a new puppy to have such a big upheaval and be moved to another home.

In the ‘disposable society’ that we live in where things are thrown away and not fixed, the same cannot be said for a dog. They have feelings and emotions and many dogs that have been rescued have been traumatised by their own horrible experiences. Before adopting our own dog years ago, we tried a rescue dog from a big charity. Unfortunately, after 5 weeks, it’s own pent up frustration became too much and my children became afraid of it after it had drawn blood twice with random people outside our home. The Charity came to our home, picked it and up and apologised that it was not the right home for this dog. It need to roam free in the countryside.

Pets have a positive impact on mental health. Research has shown that stroking a dog and having their relaxing company benefits people. Pet owners are known to go to the doctor less than those without.

People also need to be aware of the fact that dogs have feelings too.

They also suffer from mistreatment and they can have their own ‘canine mental health’ issues. It is a two-way relationship and like anything in life it is about give and take. Welcoming a dog into your London home or anywhere across the UK is amazing. Picking it up, whether as a puppy or from a rescue centre is a memory that will always remain with you.

However, all we would advise is that, you think it through carefully before committing to taking on the responsibility of a dog. The dog is really ‘a best friend’ and deserves to be treated as such. They always welcome you home. Make sure you reciprocate that warm feeling when they come to live with you.

Russell is the Founder of Pets Lets, a 100% pet friendly London property portal with a relocation service and a hub of information about dogs in London. Pets Lets is a community where people with pets matter, and Russell is a staunch advocate for increasing the number of pet friendly landlords in the city.