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Pandemic puppy owners still struggling with dogs’ behaviour, survey finds

Pandemic puppy owners still struggling with their dogs’ behaviour, new research reveals. 

The research by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) reveals that out of more than 1,000 UK dog owners, 97% reported their dog had at least one problem behaviour from a list of 24, while on average owners reported five problems. 

The most common problem was pulling on the lead – reported by about two-thirds of respondents – with jumping up and poor recall in second and third place, respectively. 

Overall, control problems were the most common type of trouble, reported by 84% of respondents. However, 25% reported their dog had aggressive behaviours. 

In addition, the research reveals that while 96% of owners used positive reinforcement to train their dog, 82% used one or more punishment-based methods such as choke chains, shouting or pushing. 

The latest results are part of a project by the RVC that follows a group of dogs bought as young puppies in 2020, during the pandemic. 

Dr Rowena Packer, a lecturer in companion animal behaviour and welfare science at the RVC and lead author of the study, said: “I think a lot of new owners go in with very high hopes [of] their dog’s behaviour and then when they realise actually training is quite tough, that’s where a third of them were really struggling.” 

She added: “Dogs don’t come off the shelf ready to know how to spend a day walking around on a lead meeting other dogs, going into social spaces with other people – all these things need to be taught.” 


  • Janet Williams

    As a Dog Trainer in the Romford area, I agree completely with the listed behaviour issues. 95% of calls for for my services are to do with poor recall, jumping up on visitors or at people in the park, and pulling on the lead. Each of these issues can be helped with a professional dog trainer, but after training sessions it is up to the owners to practice and repeat what their dog has learned every single day, several times a day, until it becomes habitual. A lot of owners don’t want to or don’t have the time to invest, but this is a crucial part of successful training.

  • Lynette

    I agree the pups needed training and at the beginning of lockdown classes closed until they worked out how they could safely run
    But very quickly by May training was available outdoors either in their own garden or in private spaces such as dog walking fields. I offered both these services but people did not want to pay even though or maybe because they had spent a fortune on their new pup. There is loads of help on line also to teach heel work and plenty of daylight hours to get out and meet other dogs and train. This is not a lockdown problem it is a problem of modern dog owners who humanise their pets and don’t teach them like animals and train them

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