3.2m households in the UK got new pets in lockdown / Return of in-person events led to upsurge in pet events /Training academy, Leading Paws, sees huge demand for puppy training

Some 3.2m households in the UK got new pets since the start of the pandemic, and this seems to have translated into a significantly increased attendance to pet-related events on ticketing and events platform Eventbrite. This April, three times as many animal lovers booked into pet events on Eventbrite than in April last year.

During lockdown, pet owners could only attend events around animals by going online – and tens of thousands have done so – but since 29 March, when some restrictions on outdoor events were lifted, they have once again joined pet events outdoors. Thousands of animal lovers have booked into a whole host of events on Eventbrite, such as dog training or young puppy play and socialisations sessions, dog walks, pet ownership workshops for young people, canine first-aid, small pets care, calm cat meditation sessions, pet portrait workshops and pet show and tells.
According to a survey of just over 5,000 people by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), there are now 17m pet owning homes in the UK. For the owners of the 3.2m pets that were bought during lockdown, the relaxation of rules means they can now socialise them with other animals, train them, and learn more about how to better care for them.

Puppy training classes in great demand at Leading Paws in Kent

The Leading Paws dog walking and training academy in Maidstone, Kent, has seen a huge surge in demand for its events and says its puppy classes are selling out soon after they go online. It is also receiving many requests for training adolescent puppies that might have forgotten certain skills during lockdown and need a booster course.
Founder and trainer at Leading Paws, Lizzie Benge said: “We went online during lockdown, but nothing can match the real-life environment, with all its distractions, to train puppies. It’s much easier for owners to train them at home in a sterile environment, but when a dog is out and about it will see other dogs, people and traffic. It’s much better for them to learn new skills with all these distractions in place.

“In April, we opened up again in a big field, with social distance measurements in place, and it’s been fantastic to see responsible owners snapping up places so their puppies can develop through socialisation and training. Working closely, in-person with puppies and their owners, it’s so much easier for us to teach them not only to sit, lie and walk on a lead but also for them to learn life skills like being handled and groomed.

“We normally only take puppies up to six months but have tried to be flexible with lockdown happening. Puppies who learned the basic skills before lockdown are now adolescent dogs who may have missed certain key skills like recall, so we’re tailoring classes to train them too. It’s been a real joy for us to open up again and for everybody to connect in a safe environment where their puppies can learn better and faster.”

Eventbrite spokesperson Sebastian Boppert said: “We’ve hosted many online pet events during lockdown, and now we’re seeing people book into outdoor events where they can meet in person. Pet lovers can currently find a wide variety of events around pets on Eventbrite, such as playtime with other pets, animal photoshoots, and seminars about the power of animals. Being out and about and meeting up with others again is not only good for the welfare of the animals, but also for the mental health of their owners.”

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