New Dogs Trust data reveals behaviour issues driving owners barking mad

Katie Court
Authored by Katie Court
Posted: Saturday, June 1, 2024 - 12:00

Dogs Trust, the UK's leading dog welfare charity, has unveiled new data that reveals some of the most common behaviour issues facing dog owners in the UK.  

According to data released today from Dogs Trust's free Behaviour Support Line, separation anxiety and reactivity to people and other dogs are the most common behaviour issues facing owners who contact the charity for support. Barking and guarding type behaviours are also in the top five problem behaviours1.  

The new data also reveals the breed of dog most identified in calls to the Behaviour Support Line. Whilst most calls to the support line are about crossbreed dogs, which includes designer crossbreeds such as Cockapoos and Labradoodles, Cocker Spaniels, Border Collies and French Bulldogs are also high up the list. 

The Behaviour Support Line was launched in 2022 in direct response to feedback gathered by the charity's National Dog Survey which found that around 83% of dogs exhibited at least one "undesirable behaviour"2. 

To help the charity continue to shape its services, Dogs Trust is once again calling on dog lovers to take part in the country's largest dog census, the National Dog Survey. With more than a third of all UK homes now shared with at least one dog, the nation's largest dog welfare charity wants to hear from owners on everything from the most common canine behaviour traits, day-to-day habits, your relationship with your four-legged friend, and much more.  

Running until June 14th, Dogs Trust's National Dog Survey can be completed online at  

Worryingly, the results of the National Dog Survey over the last couple of years have also revealed some of the more alarming techniques some owners have used to improve their dog's behaviour, many of which could be making their behaviour worse. 

Some of the most startling methods revealed in the survey include misguided attempts to mimic dog or wolf behaviour, stemming from the debunked "dominance theory" and incorrectly assuming that dogs are in competition with one another to become "pack leader" or "alpha". These methods include: 

-       Pinning dogs to the floor on their back and growling or shouting. 

-       Squeezing dogs' ears to imitate bites. 

-       Rolling dogs on to their backs. 

Other physical punishments mentioned included lifting dogs off the ground or smacking them on the nose.  Dogs Trust strongly advises against these techniques, and instead asks owners who are struggling with their dogs' behaviour to instead seek expert advice. 

Katy Errock, Behaviour Support Line Manager at Dogs Trust, says: 

"Problem behaviours such as reactivity and separation anxiety can affect the well-being of both dogs and their owners alike, and the results of our National Dog Survey show that some owners could be making the situation worse by using in their bid to resolve the issues.  

"It's vital that owners seek expert advice as early as possible if they are struggling with any element of their dog's behaviour. 

"We want to hear from dog owners from across the UK so we can continue to provide the services that they need. The insights gained from this year's National Dog Survey will ensure Dogs Trust can continue to adapt the way we support dogs and their owners, helping them to live the best lives possible together." 

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