IF you discovered puppy love during lockdown, you could be in for a challenge as you head back to work.

Willows Vet Group, which has practices in Northwich, Middlewich, Winsford, Kelsall and Tarvin, says people who welcomed new pets into their home during the pandemic need to be patient as these furry companions get used to a change in circumstances.

According to the Kennel Club, demand for new pets dramatically increased as families were forced to stay during coronavirus restrictions, with reports that prices of popular pooches have doubled and waiting lists have increased fourfold.

Now, as millions of people prepare to return to work, there are fears about puppies suffering separation anxiety, or even being abandoned if owners can’t cope.

Many new puppies have also had a sheltered start to life as during lockdown restrictions they have missed vital socialisation skills, including meeting other people and animals.

Dr Bruce Waddell, clinical director at Willows Vet Group, explains: “We have a new lockdown generation of puppies who are missing out on socialisation skills at an early age and also at risk of abandonment issues when they are left at home after spending several months with a family.

“Puppies have not had the opportunity to meet other people or animals, they have not been able to go their veterinary practice and don’t know about other important and potentially scary things like buses, cars, parks and birds.

“We need to teach them these things by stimulating them and enriching their environment in an emotionally safe way. We need to take things slowly as some puppies will be older and it is harder to learn new tricks as we get older.”

Puppies and kittens have grown so used to having people around them at home that they could be distressed when their owners return to work after furlough or when workplaces reopen.

Dr Waddell added: “Some young puppies and kittens will never have been left on their own in the house. Sudden separation could lead to significant mental and emotional health problem in our pets. Poor mental health leads to new and different behaviours - a lot we don’t like such as destructive and aggressive behaviour.”