The research showed that in the South East more than a quarter of the owners surveyed admitted having a puppy delivered or ‘click and collecting’ without seeing its breeding environment or mother reversing years of campaigning to change damaging puppy buying habits.
And 70 per cent of those surveyed said they would buy a dog the same way again.
More than a fifth in the South East admit that post-lockdown, it’s still ‘normal’ and ‘easier’ to meet a puppy virtually rather than in person, before purchase.
And one in five owners surveyed in the region admit avoiding crucial ‘life admin’, including registering with a vet or getting insurance, or not socialising their puppy with other dogs, people or day-to-day situations, mirroring other bad habits picked up during lockdown.
The Kennel Club is urging owners and would-be owners to #BePuppywise by reversing habits and this virtual dependency.
The campaign provides resources and advice from how to buy a puppy responsibly post lockdown, to training tips for pandemic pets
With more than three in 10 of those surveyed (38 per cent) in the South East admitting to picking up bad habits generally during the pandemic, dog experts are warning that these are translating to puppy buying and creating a damaging long-term legacy.
The research was based on surveys of 2,000 respondents in the UK and separately 2,214 dog owners in the UK, carried out as part of The Kennel Club’s #BePuppywise campaign, by Censuswide in August.
It revealed that post-lockdown, more than a fifth of those surveyed (22 per cent) in the South East said that it’s ‘normal’ and ‘easier’ to meet a puppy virtually, rather than in person, enabling more scammers and rogue breeders to disguise horrific breeding conditions and dupe owners resulting in a backwards step for dog welfare.
The Kennel Clubs states that, worryingly, the research shows these habits might be here to stay, as more than a quarter (29 per cent) ‘clicked and collected’ a new pet, without meeting it prior, or had their dog delivered to their door. This mirrored other bad habits developed more widely during the pandemic.
While Covid-19 restrictions once forced virtual meetings and puppy deliveries, more than one in 10 owners of those surveyed (11 per cent) in the region now agree that ‘click and collect’ -buying a puppy online and paying before meeting or collecting it - is the norm when buying a puppy post-lockdown.
The Kennel Club states this is reversing years of campaigning to change behaviour and opposing new puppy buying and selling laws introduced by the Government last year.
The research also highlights the consequences of such high demand for puppies during the pandemic in the South East and a new dangerous virtual puppy buying world, where scammers and rogue breeders can more easily hide behind a screen:
Over a quarter (29 per cent) of those owners surveyed in the South East struggled to find an available pet due to soaring demand, resulting in more people going further afield for a four-legged friend and fuelling a new virtual puppy buying reality
Now, 16 per cent don’t think it’s essential to collect a puppy and see it interacting with its mum, in its home environment, if they’re located more than two hours away
And close to a fifth (19 per cent) don’t think it’s essential to meet a puppy before paying for it, preferring to ‘click and collect’ or opting for delivery, and favouring virtual meets, even after lockdown.
Mark Beazley, chief executive of the The Kennel Club, said: “It’s understandable that many of us may have developed some fairly harmless bad habits during multiple lockdowns, such as ordering one too many takeaways, getting up late or having multiple deliveries to our doors.
“But when it comes to puppy buying, these bad habits must be reversed.
“Whilst the message about always seeing a puppy with its mum, in its home environment, seemed to have finally got through and was reinforced in new laws in 2020, this research shows the pandemic’s alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy, with many now seeing virtual puppy buying, ‘click and collect’ or pup deliveries as the norm taking us backwards in terms of dog welfare and responsible puppy buying.
“Of course there is nothing wrong with seeing an advert for a puppy online, but we’re urging potential owners to ‘be puppywise’ and always then see the puppy interacting with its mum, in its home environment in real life, as lockdown restrictions are no longer in place.
“If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house or asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup, alarm bells should be ringing.
“Scammers, rogue breeders and cruel puppy traders can, and will, cash in on this dangerous virtual puppy buying world, with devastating consequences for dogs.”
Welfare organisations like The Kennel Club are also concerned about the impact of the thousands of owners who impulse-bought, relied on disreputable sources and didn’t think long-term before getting a puppy, emulating bad habits picked up more generally during lockdown.
The Kennel Club is urging owners and potential puppy buyers to give their best friend the best start via its #BePuppywise campaign. It provides advice, tools and resources, from videos to top tips for both potential owners to help them find the right dog and breeder, and prepare for their new family member, as well as those new owners who are struggling with their pandemic puppy.
More information about the campaign, as well as advice, tips, checklists and downloadable resources for owners and potential owners on how to #BePuppywise, is available at thekennelclub.org.uk/be-puppywise.