Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeInspireAnimals & Pets

Dogs Trust warns of a rise in problem dog behaviour

Dogs Trust warns of a rise in problem dog behaviour

Dogs Trust launches second National Dog Survey after finding a rise in problem dog behaviour in order to support dog owners around the country

New data from Dogs Trust’s inaugural National Dog Survey (NDS), the world’s most comprehensive study of dogs and their owners, has revealed that an alarming number of problem pups and tearaway terriers is forcing inexperienced and first-time owners to consider adoption for their, now teenaged, pandemic puppies. 

Pandemic pups

As dogs acquired during the on-again off-again COVID related lockdowns adjust to their once ever-present owners returning to office work, either full or part-time, the lack of training and socialisation they were exposed to in their first years of life is starting to hit.

"This year alone, the charity has received 18,000 handover requests"

Difficulty dealing with such behaviour has meant Dogs Trust has been inundated with handover requests from pet owners feeling out of their depth and no longer able to care for their dog. This year alone, the charity has received 18,000 handover requests, with 30 per cent of those stating "unwanted behaviours" from the dog as their motivation to give them up. 

Lack of training

Data from Dogs Trust National Dog Survey shows that a quarter of respondents admitted they were worried they didn’t have the patience to deal with their dog’s behaviour, almost a fifth (18 per cent) revealed they didn’t have time to train their new pup, and more than one in ten (12 per cent) said they hadn’t invested in vital training with experts because they couldn’t afford it. 

A helping hand

With almost 350,000 respondents in its first year, Dogs Trust’s National Dog Survey provided unprecedented insights into attitudes and behaviours, which the charity has used to create new services to support the nation’s dogs and their owners. This shows the real world impact the National Dog Survey has had on helping the charity achieve its goal of making the world a better place for dogs. 

Maple trailhound harefield dogs trust

One of these new services is the free Behaviour Support Line which is manned by specialists equipped with a range of behaviour qualifications and expertise, including animal behaviour degrees, dog behaviour accreditations, and hands-on experience supporting dogs and owners. The Behaviour Support Line has already helped thousands of owners and their previously problematic pups with practical advice to tackle behaviour issues, including separation anxiety, chewing and problem barking, and has ultimately helped reduced the number of dogs that need to be rehomed.   

What does the expert say?

Katy Errock, Behaviour Support Line Team Leader at Dogs Trust encourages dog owners to “have a look around and see what’s offered by organisations and charities such as Dogs Trust. Our free Behaviour Support Line is designed to help owners struggling with unwanted behaviours such as barking or pulling on the lead. Our team keeps up-to-date with all the latest science and research in dog behaviour and will chat through any concerns you have over the phone and recommend a course of action. 

"Dogs can be trained at any time during their life, so [...] there’s still time to help correct unwanted behaviour"

“Although training in infancy is critical for a well-rounded adult dog, they can be trained at any time during their life, so even if they didn’t receive those vital skills when they were young, there’s still time to help correct unwanted behaviour.”  

As leader for the Behaviour Support Line team, Katy speaks with owners every day whose dogs may be displaying difficult behaviour. She said, “It feels very rewarding to see how even small pieces of advice can have a massive difference to the lives of dogs and owners. As a result, not only do we see owners go away feeling much happier, they’re also able to strengthen their bond with their dog and avoid having to give them up.” 

National Dog Survey 2023

Buoyed by this success story, Dogs Trust wants to hear from the nation’s dog owners once again. The second National Dog Survey is open until 18th June, and the results of this will help Dogs Trust continue to better-understand the UK’s 12.5 million-strong pooch population and develop more of these much-needed tailored support programmes. Dog owners across the country are being urged to spare just 10 minutes to help make this year’s National Dog Survey bigger and better than ever before. 

"Buoyed by this success story, Dogs Trust wants to hear from the nation’s dog owners once again"

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, says: “Too often we hear from families who feel they have no other option but to give up their dogs due to problems that could have been prevented early on with the right interventions.  

“Last year, over 350,000 people responded to our first National Dog Survey, giving us a real insight into how people care for their dogs here in the UK. We’ve since used all that we learnt to launch new services providing tangible support to dogs and their owners, including our Behaviour Support Line, helping them to tackle behaviour-related issues before they turn into real problems.  

“What owners tell us through the National Dog Survey this year will again shape the future services provided by Dogs Trust so we can continue to support the nation’s dogs and their owners.”  

For more information and to do your bit for the nation’s dogs, complete the National Dog Survey by visiting before June 18.

Pet of the Month banner

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit