THEY have helped dog owners across the south cope with the stress and isolation caused by lockdown.

Experts say our canine companions have provided a constant source of comfort, often preventing people from being overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

They have also kept their owners active, demanding daily walks pandemic or no.

Now a two-day event taking place in the New Forest next month is set to salute the vital role played by dogs over the past year.

Billed as Glastonbury with the bark factor, Dogstival 2021 is being held at Burley Park, Burley, on June 5-6.

Organisers say it is the perfect opportunity to reward dogs for “keeping us going” during the various lockdowns imposed since the start of the pandemic.

Celebrity vet Scott Miller will host twice daily Q&A sessions as well as helping to give talks and demonstrations on keeping dogs in perfect health.

This year’s focus will be on puppies and first-time dog owners, a nod to all dogs that have been bought during the Covid crisis.

The Behaviourist Lounge, hosted by dog training expert Natalie Light, will offer a personalised insight into common behavioural issues and potential solutions.

Dogstival will also feature an “epic” adventure playground for dogs and their owners.

Other attractions will include cross country running with dogs as well as the giant K9 dog diving pool for those who love to have fun in the water.

Pop-up vet and physio drop-in centres will be positioned across the showground, giving owners the opportunity to seek one-to-one feedback for their pet.

The UK’s only pet detective, Colin Butcher, will be joined by his partner in crime, a six-year-old spaniel called Molly.

The festival will also include live music and more than 140 stalls.

Organiser Richard Nowell said: “Our programme celebrates the coming together of four-legged friends who have been the best therapy this past year.”