Dogs Trust

The dog really did eat my homework: New Dogs Trust research reveals the state of our nation's dogs

  • Research released today by Dogs Trust has revealed that dogs with problem behaviours cost the average UK dog owner £353.28 a year, equating to more than £4,000 over the average dog's lifetime*
  • Shoes topped that list, with almost (45 per cent) of dog owners replacing at least one pair of shoes a month
  • This shocking figure equates to an average total cost in damages of £3billion** across the country
  • Almost a million dogs (of the 8.5 million in the UK) have had no formal training
  • Nearly 30% of owners report coming home to find their dog has toileted, been barking or destroyed something
  • But when it comes to going out, 1 in 5 dog owners never let their dog off the lead, and almost 60% of dogs do not always return when called by their owners
  • Despite all of this, nearly 75% of the public train their dogs themselves and do not seek professional help - but thanks to Dogs Trust, help is on its way

Dogs Trust Dog Schools offer all dog owners practical, expert training and advice based on the most recent advances in dog behaviour science. Dog School comes after the charity received nearly 9,000 calls from owners looking to rehome their dogs due to behavioural problems, with research citing 1 in 10 dog owners have given up their four-legged family member because they couldn't cope with their dog's behaviour.

At Dog School owners learn how to teach their dog new skills using positive reward based training, and find out lots about dog behaviour to help them develop a trusting relationship and prevent the kind of problems that cost the nation over £3billion. The new research out today revealed the common excuse "the dog ate my homework" isn't just a defence for the classroom - though for 40 per cent of Brits it is - as four in ten dog owners have had to explain themselves after their dog damaged their homework, including dissertations and important work documents. Nearly a third of dog owners identified that their dogs caused destructive behaviour when left alone which could be avoided if dog owners took the time to understand their dog's behaviour instead of simply branding them 'naughty dogs'.

Dog School equips dogs with the skills to make the right decisions even in the most tempting of scenarios so graduates were given the chance to show off their good behaviour as they were put through a series of temptation trials - including sitting happily by their owner whilst resisting the temptation of a juicy steak and refraining from barking at the postman - tasks untrained dogs may find difficult.

Commenting on the nation's need for better trained dogs, Dogs Trust Director of Canine Behaviour and Research, Dr Rachel Casey says:

"Behaviour problems are a massive welfare issue for dogs: they are the most common reason for dogs to be relinquished to Dogs Trust. Dogs Trust Dog School was set up to deal with problem at the source. We want to give owners the right information and skills to be able to live happy and fulfilling lives with their dogs."

Dr Casey adds: "Dog School is different from traditional training classes as it teaches your dog to fit happily into your life. Although this includes training things like sitting when asked and coming back when you call, it goes much further. We help your dog learn how to behave in everyday situations, such as when you pass other dogs in the street or need him to settle down when you're watching TV. Dog School is also about making sure you develop a strong bond with your dog, understand his behaviour, and know how to react if things don't go according to plan."

Despite paying out an average of nearly £4,000 throughout a dog's lifetime as a result of their dog's behaviour, 85 per cent of dog owners in the UK have never had professional advice on training their dog. It's a worry that 1 in 5 dogs are reported to not ever be let off the lead, for those dogs that are allowed off the lead in public, a 58 per cent of owners say they can't be trusted to always come back when called. Owners also seem to recognise the benefits that professional training has on their dog, as 56 per cent believe that professionally trained dogs would have a better quality of life and welfare."

Why is Dogs Trust Dog School needed?

  1. With nearly a third (32%) of dog owners describing that their dog displays some signs of separation anxiety; such as constantly barking when left, the life lessons taught at Dogs Trut Dog School are invaluable. Such lessons include providing dogs with the confidence and skills to be able to positively respond in different situations, whether that means being on their own, or in a busy environment such as a pub or a social event where nearly two thirds of dog owners admit they would not venture with their dog.
  2. For some dog owning is a walk in the park, but for many even this is a challenge. 1 in 5 owners never let their dog off the lead because only 16% of the dogs come back when called. Skills such as this and obedience, and walking nicely on the lead are another of the arsenal of skills a Dogs Trust Do School recruit would graduate with.
  3. Understanding your dog and knowing how to react in order to prevent future behaviours developing is a vital element to being a responsible dog owner and at the core of Dogs Trust Dog School. So when 74% of dog owners prefer to train their dog themselves and possibly miss the key tells of a dog exhibiting signs of separation anxiety they are potentially opening themselves up to a bill of £4,000, in damages to their possessions.

Top five...

Items Brits dogs have damaged...

  1. Shoes (45 per cent)
  2. Clothing (38 per cent)
  3. Children's toys (20 per cent)
  4. Documents for work (18 per cent)
  5. Passport (17 per cent)

Most common problem behaviour traits of dogs...

  1. Barking at people coming to the door (52 per cent)
  2. Pulling when on the lead (41 per cent)
  3. Jumping up at members of the household (39 per cent)
  4. Barking at other dogs (37 per cent)
  5. Begging for food (32 per cent)

Places Brits don't like to go with their dog in case he or she doesn't behave well

  1. Restaurant (20 per cent)
  2. Crowded event (18 per cent)
  3. Shop (16 per cent)
  4. Pub (15 per cent)
  5. Friend's house (13 per cent)

For more information on Dogs Trust Dog School, including how you can register for a place, visit

*Average age of UK dogs

**£358.28 (average cost per year based on research) x 8.5million (dogs in the UK)