A response to ITVâ€™s Tonight's programme about dangerous dogs (broadcast Thursday 28 June)
“Problem dog behaviour is most often due to a lack of training and little or no socialisation – which involves considerately getting pets used to everyday sights and sounds when they are young, especially during their first few weeks of life.
“PDSA is urging owners who may have concerns about their pets’ aggressive behaviour to seek professional advice as soon as possible. Anyone with a young dog should, without exception, make a commitment to socialising and training their pet using effective and humane methods. It is up to owners to make sure that they provide appropriate early experiences for their young dog so that their pet grows up to be friendly and outgoing. Effective socialisation also prevents fears from developing which can be a cause of aggression in later life.
PDSA research has found that half of all dogs never went to training classes within their first six months of life, and 25% of owners who had their dog as a puppy did not adequately socialise it. These figures are taken from the charity’s annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report*, which is the largest survey ever conducted into companion animal health and welfare standards in the UK today.
New PDSA Ambassador, Joanna Page, supports PDSA’s message, saying: “Dogs are such wonderful companions so it’s a real shame to hear about cases of aggression and bad behaviour. Dog aggression is a very worrying issue, particularly as the consequences can be serious, if not fatal, if dogs are out of control. Owners ultimately have overall responsibility for how their dogs behave so it’s up to owners everywhere to make sure their dogs are a pleasure to be around rather than them scaring or hurting anyone. Proper training and socialisation are key to a well-behaved dog.”
Sean continues: “The first thing any worried owner should do is consult their vet who will advise them on the right approach for addressing anti-social behaviour and rule out possible underlying medical causes. What is important for owners to remember is that, in most cases, any problems they have with their pet’s behaviour can be overcome with professional guidance. Behavioural professionals will always seek to find out the underlying reason for why a pet is behaving the way it is, then use kind, evidence-based techniques to change that behaviour for the better.”
PDSA’s website has information and advice on behaviour, training and socialisation, including free downloadable leaflets. Go to www.pdsa.org.uk/dogbehaviour.
For a full copy of the PAW Report, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/pawreport.
Other dog behaviour findings from the PAW Report include:
• 87% of people believe pet owners should face tougher penalties if their dog attacks another person or animal.
• Over a third (35%) of dog owners would consider giving up their dog if its behaviour became a problem.
• 50% of dogs (around 4.1 million) never went to training classes during their first six months of life.
• A quarter of owners who had their dog as a puppy did not adequately socialise it, which can result in fear of certain objects, people and situations in later life.
• 44% of owners don’t know what socialisation their dog had when young.
*Survey of 11,124 dog, cat and rabbit owners was conducted online between 21st September – 16th November 2010 through the YouGov panel. Data is weighted to be representative of dog, cat and rabbit owners in the UK.