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Pandemic puppy boom has led to ‘extremely worrying’ rise in aggressive behaviour

The pandemic boom in dog ownership has led to an “extremely worrying” rise in aggressive behaviour by dogs, new research reveals.

A survey commissioned by the British Veterinary Association shows that half of vets in the UK have reported a rise in the number of clients concerned about their dogs’ increasingly aggressive behaviour over the past 12 months.

In cases where the age was known, 87% of dogs were believed to be under three years of age, the survey shows.

In addition, 24% of vets also reported an increase in the number of pets they had treated in the past 12 months who were injured as a result of aggressive behaviour by dogs.

An estimated 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet in the first year of the pandemic, with the proportion of people owning a dog increasing when compared to early 2020.

A 2022 Royal Veterinary College study, funded by the BVA’s animal welfare charity, Animal Welfare Foundation, predicted the risk of behavioural problems in some pandemic puppies bought during 2020.

Justine Shotton, the British Veterinary Association’s Senior Vice-President, said: “Whilst these new statistics are extremely worrying, they are not unexpected. Vets and animal charities have been raising concerns around the long-term impacts of the pandemic puppy boom, when owners were unable to access adequate training and socialisation opportunities that are so important for development in the first few months of their lives.

“At the British Veterinary Association, we urge pet owners who are concerned about their dog’s behaviour to talk to a vet, who will be able to check for any underlying medical issues that could be causing issues, give advice and refer to an ABTC-accredited veterinary behaviourist. Don’t delay seeking help, as poor behaviour can deteriorate and can become harder to deal with as a dog matures.”


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