Having a pet of any description can be a wonderful experience. For some lucky owners, it can last for decades. Fish, parrots, and horses, can all live a long happy life.
Dogs and cats, while averaging a shorter lifespan than a koi carp, for instance, offer their owners something unique that some other pets cannot; companionship. Dogs and cats are both capable of showing affection and being attentive to their owners.
However, dogs are ahead of all other pets when it comes to being genuine friends. They provide genuine unconditional love that no other animal is capable of, and this is one of the reasons that so many people seek out a dog or puppy as their pet.
As the pandemic gripped the world, the idea of owning a dog gripped millions of people. In the UK, dog ownership rose by over 3 million, while in the US, adoptions, and sales of dogs soared according to the Washington Post.
But is this truly a good thing in the long run?
Why could taking on a dog during Covid be a bad thing?
Just as there are TV campaigns around the holiday period to warn against the perils of buying a dog for Christmas, there may also be problems with Covid dog ownership.
Not everyone is truly ready for a dog when they get one. Some people do not consider all the ramifications that dog ownership brings. Some others think it is a good idea to buy a dog for another person, without thinking it through.
The risk is that dogs bought to alleviate loneliness during the pandemic are not seen as so necessary once the restrictions are lifted. What seemed like fun during the lockdown may seem more of a burden afterward, and then the shelters will once again be full of unwanted pooches.
Why are people taking more dogs home?
The main reason as mentioned above has been the lockdowns. The pandemic, in general, seems to have affected the daily customs of billions of people in surprising ways.
More people took up playing a new instrument than ever before, vegetable patches were planted, languages learned, cakes baked, and more books read than before. More time was spent online than ever, and millions of people spent more hours in front of Netflix and Disney Plus than previously.
Dog ownership was another of the changes that people made. The reasons for the sudden interest in having a dog could likely stem from time spent apart from their families, and a lack of social interaction.
Both dogs and people are socially active creatures, so it makes sense in a way that the pandemic should bring them together. Getting a puppy can mean that the home feels livelier, loneliness is eradicated, and the place feels more secure with a dog.
Is it only dogs that people are adopting?
All manner of animals are being adopted, and pet shops have recorded interest in everything from mice to snakes. Hopefully not together.
People are seemingly more interested in having a companion for their home than ever before. It likely goes back to the need for interaction with another living creature, but there are mental health benefits too. Covid caused an increase in mental health issues, and pets are often recommended to help treat these symptoms.
According to the Petfood Industry, pet ownership in the states rose to a record high. Before the pandemic, sixty-seven percent of American households had a pet of some kind. During 2020 this rose to a record seventy percent, and pet food sales increased by 11% too.
The rise in pet food sales could be blamed partly on panic buying along with canned and dried goods, and toilet paper. However, the trend has continued, and it isn’t just dog food sales that have increased. Cats, fish, birds, and reptiles have all found new homes during the pandemic.
What are the dangers of this new rise in pet ownership?
Obtaining a new pet is a thrilling time for all involved. Pretty soon though the new owner will discover the responsibilities that come with that new pet. The danger then comes when the honeymoon period ends.
Getting a tarantula may have been on some people’s bucket lists, but once they achieved their dream they would have been wondering how to look after an eight-legged pet. Not everyone thinks through the issues that pet ownership can bring. What do tarantulas eat anyway?
One of the problems with new pet owners during 2020 is that their situations could change as the pandemic restrictions end.
As people return to work, or they are able to travel more, they may find they don’t have the time, or perhaps the inclination, to be with their pets so much. Some people may also not even feel that they want their new dog anymore.
Many of the new dog owners have already taken their pets back to the shelters or sold them on, as they didn’t appreciate what they were letting themselves in for.
Problems that can arise with dogs
Dog ownership is hugely rewarding, and unlike cats, dogs don’t choose when they will be affectionate, they do it all the time.
But that doesn’t mean that they are problem-free. Dogs can suffer from behavioral problems, allergies, get sick, and require vet bills. Owners can save money when owning a pet by taking out insurance to lessen those vet bills but ultimately dogs cost money.
A job loss could see a new owner struggling to pay rent, let alone buy expensive dog food. These owners may not be able to afford shots or other bills either.
What should you consider if you are looking for a dog?
If you are considering getting a dog yourself, then think through the situation before going ahead.
Are you ready to put in the time and trouble to walk and play with your new dog every day? Is your home setting suitable for a dog? Are you able to cope alone with a pup that hasn’t yet been housebroken?
There is no reason why you shouldn’t get a dog as long as you understand the responsibilities that come with it, then you can enjoy all the benefits. As for some of the issues with dog ownership, there is some help and resources out there.
For advice on setting up the home for the new dog, there are plenty of websites available. Dietary advice is also plentiful on animal websites. Some dog food companies such as Scratch will help with personal plans and deliver to your home. You will also get to meet plenty of other dog owners in the park who can help you transition.
While it is heart-warming to see so many dogs leave shelters and rescue centers, it is slightly concerning to hear about the ones that get returned. Dog ownership needs to be considered carefully and should not be done on a whim.
Statistics indicate that the trend for new dog ownership in 2021 is falling, and this is likely to do with the removal of travel restrictions and social distancing.
It can only be hoped that the majority of people who took in a new dog last year thought the situation through and are still as much in love with their new companion now as they were then.