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Buying Or Selling A Dog: The Lockdown Rules

** Last Updated 31/03/2021: Statement From Defra **

Buying Or Selling A Dog | Do You Know The Lockdown Rules?

Buying or selling a dog during lockdown? Here’s all you need to know…

As of January 2021, the PM announced tighter government guidelines on social distancing and travel, with restrictions placed on all UK citizens. With laws in place to determine when individuals may leave their homes, the police are now able to take action against those doing so without a ‘reasonable excuse’. For more information on the current guidelines, please visit

stay home, protect the nhs, save lives

Face-To-Face Buying & Selling

Here at Preloved, we pride ourselves on bringing like-minded buyers and sellers together within their community. However, in order to help combat the spread of the Coronavirus, and in accordance with the government’s ‘Stay At Home’ stance, we STRONGLY advise against all face-to-face transactions at this time and would ask our members to please abide by regulations in order to keep yourselves, and others, safe.

The Rehoming Of Animals During Lockdown

We understand that our members come to Preloved to find a furever friend to join their family, and we’ve always advised members to see an animal in their own home in order to check it’s health, it’s environment, and to look for any red flags that raise alarm bells. However, during lockdown it’s not possible to do this. So what are the new rules?

Buying Or Adopting A Dog

Due to travel restrictions, it’s not possible to visit an animal in its own home prior to purchasing. Please remember, all puppies and kittens (those under 6 month old) must be seen interacting with their mother. We would suggest keeping in contact with buyers/sellers via regular video calls, email, and phone calls, to get updates. This allows potential buyers to see the animal and its environment.

Current guidelines, issued by Defra

‘ You must follow social distancing rules when buying or adopting a pet. You should not visit a breeder or rescue centre in person to view an animal before buying or adopting it. This is not a reasonable excuse to leave your home. You should ask for a virtual tour instead. Take extra care to make sure that the seller is legitimate by following government guidance on how to get pets responsibly. Breeders and rescue centres should make arrangements to deliver your pet to you when it is ready to be rehomed. Where this is not possible, and it is reasonably necessary for the pet’s welfare, you may collect the animal. You should collect your pet by appointment only. You must collect the pet without entering the premises where this is a private home ‘.

buying or selling a dog

Defra Statement, issued 31/03/2021:

Whilst the Petfished campaign’s importance lies in the advice it provides prospective purchasers of pets, or those rehoming them, the government’s response to the coronavirus rightly prioritises the safety of individuals and the support of businesses.  We appreciate that this might offer an opportunity to unscrupulous sellers but hope that prospective purchasers who don’t have access to suitable technology, or are offered a pet by a seller who doesn’t offer a video call, will carefully consider whether to continue with the purchase.
By waiting until they are able to visit or purchasing from a breeder who can provide a video call they will be helping to ensure that the opportunity for unscrupulous activity is minimised.
As we progress though the roadmap we will make necessary revisions to the Petfished website so that it reflects the most appropriate advice. The government has also published more wide ranging advice on the welfare of animals during the coronavirus pandemic which can be found here.

Surrendering A Dog

In these unprecedented times of financial uncertainty, there may be a need to rehome your dog. There are many shelters across the UK that can support you with this. These organisations are the best suited to finding your dog the right home. The staff are there to help you, will not pass judgement on yourself or your circumstances, and will show your dog love and compassion until they find their new home. Please always use a registered shelter, such as Dogs Trust.

Scams – Be Aware!

For over a year, Preloved has worked closely with Defra to help our members spot deceitful sellers. A key part of this is seeing an animal in person before paying a deposit.

Within just two months of the first lockdown, Action Fraud reported £280,000 had been lost by members of the public as part of pet selling scams. This was largely by those deceitful sellers requesting deposits.

While the government continues to allow the sale of dogs through licenced breeders, without allowing for the added safety measure of a face-to-face visit, we would strongly recommend buyers perform due diligence where they can; look into the seller’s online presence, reverse search any images you’re sent, ask for video calls at various times of the day/week.

Only if you feel comfortable enough to make a deposit payment, always transfer funds via a secure method, such as PayPal, where you can claim the money back.

If you have any concerns regarding a seller, whether on Preloved or elsewhere, please report it!

avoid pet scams online

The Lockdown Effect

Back in March 2020, we issued a statement to our members advising them not to buy or sell animals during lockdown for the very reason that face-to-face transactions were not permitted. Thanks to this, we saw a 53% reduction in the number of dog adverts listed on our website during the first lockdown.

Sadly, the number of people looking to buy significantly increased during the same period:

  • Search of the term ‘Dog’: increased by 103.5%
  • Search of the term ‘Puppies’: increased by 163.7%.

Increased Demand Means Increased Prices

With fewer sellers listing animals for sale, and with thousands of people finding themselves working from home thinking it would be an ideal time to take on a new furever friend, the demand heavily outweighed the supply, and prices steadily increased.

At Preloved, we saw the average listing value of dogs increased by an incredible 101% during the initial lockdown period. Whilst Preloved dictates that no animal be listed as Free and has minimum listing prices, we cannot dictate a maximum price to our sellers.

It’s understood that many sellers recognised some buyers could be acting impulsively, without considering the long term responsibility of taking on a dog. Its possible prices were increased to deter the impulse buyers. Sadly, it’s also possible that some people have taken advantage of the sellers’ market.

Please only pay the price you are comfortable with. If you feel the price is too high, walk away. Look for other reputable licensed breeders and compare prices for the breed of dog you’re interested in. Please also remember, there are many animals available at registered shelters in need of the love you can provide, for a much lower adoption fee.

buying or selling a dog during lockdown

Aside from buying or selling a dog, if you need more lockdown advice, click here

Tina Hidderley

Tina Hidderley

Community Manager

Tina has been a member of the Preloved family for over 6 years. Her interests include spending quality time with her family, promoting responsible pet ownership, and Netflix bingeing.