COVID puppy fears over Vic training delays

Many puppies are missing out on training and socialisation due to lockdown.
Many puppies are missing out on training and socialisation due to lockdown.

Not only are the social skills of Melburnians suffering in lockdown, but so too their four-legged friends.

The Lost Dogs' Home has revealed its number of puppy training classes, which are currently operating online, are down 80 per cent as Victorians opt to wait for face-to-face lessons to resume.

The animal welfare charity says it was running at least five classes simultaneously before lockdown but most have now stopped.

"There are potentially hundreds if not thousands of young or juvenile animals in our community missing out on important socialisation," the group's behaviour trainer Seren Robinson said in a statement on Monday.

The same drop-off occurred last year, with many puppies missing out on training and socialisation during the critical period before 16 weeks of age.

The charity is worried about the repeating trend, in light of surging dog adoption rates during the pandemic.

"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."

She said other dog behaviour specialists were in a similar position and would have plenty of work to do as owners rushed to book after lockdown.

"Anecdotally, over the past year or two we have seen dogs that present as what you might expect 'COVID puppies' would," Ms Robinson said.

"Dogs from the ages of six to 18 months with behavioural issues that may correlate to a lack of early socialisation with people and/or dogs or issues around independence."

Kensington couple Dave and Narelle credit training for straightening up their "naughty" Jack Russell puppy Tripp.

"We feel that it's very similar to sending children to kindergarten and school," Dave said.

"It was particularly helpful in cementing a great relationship between Tripp and our young daughter."

Australian Associated Press