DOG trainers have seen a surge in demand in Oxfordshire after people started buying and adopting more puppies over lockdown.

In May, Blue Cross animal rescue, which has shelters in Lewknor and Burford, saw a 515 per cent increase in the number of people applying to adopt dogs compared to the previous year.

This puppy fever has meant dog trainers across the county have seen a big rise in demand for their classes.

Read also: New bingo club to open at Kassam Stadium

Helen Stroudley, owner of Headington Dog Training, said: “We have definitely had an increase in bookings, especially for puppies.

“It has been a considerable increase, with demand going up throughout lockdown, but particularly towards the end of the restrictions.

“In one day, I have about six inquiries and now we are full until January, so I’ve had to turn away a lot of people with puppies.”

“Puppies that aren’t even born yet are being booked into classes for January.

“Ideally if anyone is thinking about booking a puppy class, or getting a puppy, they should try to book a class in advance.”

Oxford Mail:

Helen and Martin with their dog Ralph.

Sue Durham, who runs Goody4Paws in Wootton, said: “The demand for our training service has gone up with the increase of supply of puppies.

“I haven’t had to turn anyone away, but I’ve had to do a lot more one-to-ones because we can’t have big classes anymore.

“It has been very busy and become difficult to find time in the diary, but no one has been turned away.

Read here: Care home allows in-person visit for the first time since March

“It is a lot easier to help train their dogs when it is one-to-one, though.”

Another Oxford dog trainer said, however, the increased demand for classes is not only because of lockdown puppy purchases.

They said: “We have seen an increase, but this may not be solely down to the purchase of puppies or adoption of dogs due to Covid.

Read also: The alien invaders eating into our taxes

“As there was no classes being run since March, there would naturally be an increase in demand for places once classes reopen.

“The fact that some training clubs are unable to open would also lead to an increase in numbers.”

He said that demand could also have gone up because Covid-19 social distancing rules mean classes now have to be smaller.

Trainers also expressed concern about dogs' welfare after the surge in interest.

Mrs Stroudley said: “My main worry, which I think is the same with a lot of dog trainers, is that people won’t do their research, see how much time a dog needs, and then will end up giving dogs back.

Read also: 'Lockdown puppies' add to 391 dog concerns

“We have also seen a lot of puppies come from non-certified breeders, even some puppy farmed dogs.”

Another dog trainer said: “Hopefully new owners will remember dogs are for life, not just for Covid.”

Kayleigh Hill, from Blue Cross, added: “It’s so important that people give serious thought to the responsibility of owning an animal and whether they can care for their lifetime.”

The warning comes after the RSPCA revealed it had received 391 reports of dogs in trouble in Oxfordshire so far this year.