How hard is it to look after a puppy?

More than four in 10 dog owners “struggled” to look after their pet as a puppy - with 17 per cent believing it’s tougher than raising a baby.

A poll of 2,000 people with dogs revealed 30 per cent think the first two years of owning a pooch are the hardest, with 23 per cent admitting they had “no idea” how much work went into training a puppy.

As a result, 21 per cent were left with ruined carpets because of their disobedient pet – while one in four had to bid goodbye to their chewed slippers.

Toilet training, not chewing the furniture and listening to demands such as “sit” were among the hardest things to train a new puppy on.

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And owners spend an average of 21 hours a month on training after bringing a puppy home – 43 minutes a day.

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But it takes an average of six months of training to get the basics sorted.

The stats emerged in a poll by pet health and insurance company Bought By Many, which has seen a 87 per cent rise in behavioural issues between 2019 and 2021.

Its figures also show that those with puppies aged under one are 62 per cent more likely to claim for a behavioural issue compared to just 16 per cent of owners who have dogs aged between one and two.

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Volumes of claims continue to drop significantly after the dog reaches three years old.

Sarah James, Vet Nurse at Bought By Many, said: “It’s well-known puppy training is time consuming and requires a lot of personal effort, but that doesn’t prepare owners for how overwhelming it can be.

“The first few nights with a puppy can be sleepless and messy and the first year can feel like a struggle. But the good news is that owners are not alone.

“Toilet accidents or chewing are all part of the puppy process and more challenging issues such as separation anxiety can be managed with time and patience – and occasionally professional support from vets and qualified behaviourists.

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“Lockdown presented thousands of owners the chance to welcome a dog home but working from home can present its own issues too and dog behaviourists and trainers around the country will be adapting their training courses to help owners with the ‘new normal’.”

The poll also found that of the one in five owners who picked up their pups during lockdown, 78 per cent were convinced they would have more time on their hands for training.

But seven in 10 found combining working from home, with training a dog, much trickier than they had anticipated.

Add Brushing Your Dogs Teeth into Their Grooming Routine. Get in the habit of brushing your dogs teeth daily to avoid expensive dental visits later. You can use a human toothbrush if you like (though they make ones for dogs, too), but be sure to pick up tooth paste that’s formulated for dogs.

More than one fifth of all owners have even taken their dog to a vet, trainer or specialised behaviourist to help control their pet.

It also emerged that owners estimate their dog has done damage worth £435 to their homes and personal belongings.

Typically, puppies are a lot more accident-prone than adult dogs, with accidents claims at Bought By Many accounting for 22 per cent of puppy claims, but just 10 per cent of those for adult dogs.The top five most common breeds to claim in 2021 ranged from Cockerpoos and Cocker Spaniels to Labradors, Border Collies and French Bulldogs.

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It comes after three quarters of owners firmly believe some breeds are simply easier to train than others, according to the OnePoll figures.

Bought By Many’s Sarah James added: “Some dogs will have a far more wilful nature than others or will need more mental or physical stimulation.

“My number one recommendation is to do thorough research into exactly what kind of dog suits you best, not just from a training point of view, but all areas of the dog’s life and your lifestyle .

“Will you be able to walk it as long and as often as it needs? If you don’t have a garden, are you ready to commit to a toilet schedule to ensure your pup gets out when they need to go? If you’re working from home, are you able to dedicate time away from your desk to training and engaging with your dog regularly?

Keep a pet-friendly home. Your dog or cat is a part of the family. If she’s a kitty, she needs her own litter box in a quiet, out-of-the way corner, a scratching post or tree, her own toys, and a nice cozy spot for napping.

“Encouragingly, as your puppy matures and you both get into the swing of things, many initial problems will get easier.

“There really is a dog breed for everyone, as long as you’re willing to put in the work and give it the TLC they deserve.”

Dog owner Nick Simmons, 38, who lives with his nine-month-old Chihuahua, Mabel, in Brighton, said: “Getting a puppy feels a little like having a kid. No one mentions the gross bits.

“Equally, once you have them you genuinely can’t imagine life without them.

“I’ve never known someone so pleased to see me in the mornings or greeting me as if I’ve been away for years when I’ve only taken the rubbish out.

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“Unconditional love, endless amusement and buckets of personality more than makes up for the occasional accident, or total destruction of a work report when your back is turned.

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“The training pays off, the patience is rewarded, and what you get back is so much more than I ever expected.”

SWNS