Kennel Club exposes 'dangerous' virtual puppy buying world and urges reversal of pandemic bad habits


Research reveals alarming lockdown legacy as ‘click and collect’ and ‘click and drop’ puppies now seen as the norm.

  • Half of dog owners who ‘click and collected’ a puppy during the pandemic would be happy to do so again, now restrictions have eased – reversing years of campaigning to change damaging puppy buying habits.
  • A quarter of Brits admit that post-lockdown, it’s still ‘normal’ and ‘easier’ to meet a puppy virtually rather than in person, before purchase.
  • Three in five owners who had their dog delivered to their door, and almost half who didn’t see their puppy with its mum, said they would buy a dog the same way in the future.
  • And more than a fifth of new owners admit avoiding crucial doggy ‘life admin’, such as 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 urges Brits to #BePuppywise by reversing habits and this virtual dependency – providing resources and advice from how to buy a puppy responsibly post-lockdown, to training tips for pandemic pets.

With two in five (43%) of Brits 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.

New research released on 19th September by The Kennel Club as part of its #BePuppywise campaign, shows that post-lockdown, a quarter of Brits admit 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.

Worryingly, the research shows that these habits might be here to stay, as three in five owners (62%) who had their dog delivered to their door, and 42% who didn’t see their puppy with its mum, said they would buy a dog the same way in the future. Half of those who ‘clicked and collected’ a new pet, without meeting it prior, said they would also do so again – mirroring other bad habits developed more widely during the pandemic.

Whilst Covid-19 restrictions once forced virtual meetings and puppy deliveries – with 43% of pandemic owners having their puppy delivered to their door or opting for ‘click and collect’ without seeing their puppy prior to purchase – more than one in ten owners (13%) now agree that ‘click and collect’ or delivery is the norm when buying a puppy post-lockdown, reversing years of campaigning to change behaviour and opposing new laws to crack down on rogue puppy trading introduced last year.

The research also highlights the consequences of such high demand for puppies during the pandemic and a new dangerous virtual puppy buying world, where scammers and rogue breeders can more easily hide behind a screen:

  • 36% of pandemic puppy owners 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, more than a fifth (22%) 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 almost a third (29%) 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.

“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,” commented Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club. “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:

  • Almost one in five new owners (17%) spent less than two hours researching their new puppy and where they would get it from, amidst soaring demand, rife scams and more widespread impulse buying during the pandemic.
  • A quarter (24%) admit not finding a reputable source of advertised puppies, relying on internet chatter or social media.
  • 23% didn’t make a plan for a return to the workplace or 'normal life' before getting their puppy.

And upon getting their new four-legged friend home, one in ten didn’t establish a daily routine – such as walks and dinner time – with their puppy. Almost a fifth (19%) put off completing post-purchase admin, including getting insurance, registering with a vet or booking vaccinations, and over half (54%) didn’t go to puppy training classes, with 20 per cent admitting they didn’t socialise their puppy with other dogs, people or day-to-day situations outside the home.

And it isn’t just human behaviours causing concern; a quarter of pandemic puppy owners admit their dog has picked up bad habits during the pandemic, such as jumping up and barking.

Following this worrying research, The Kennel Club is urging owners and potential puppy buyers to give their best friend the best start via its #BePuppywise campaign – providing 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 are available on The Kennel Club website.