Bark to school | Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust

Bark to school

As children across the UK start back at school, Dogs Trust – the UK’s largest dog welfare charity – has identified an alarming trend which sees some families hand their dogs into rescue centres as soon as their children go back to school. 

Purchased by a family to ‘entertain’ the children over the summer, nine-month-old Cockapoo Gus was handed into the Harefield rehoming centre as the holidays were coming to an end. Sadly, the parents realised the children were going back to school, they were going back to work and they couldn’t care for the pup.

Last year, on September 5th, the start of the new school year, the charity recorded one of the highest number of calls on any one day of the year. Dogs Trust were asked to take in 220 dogs; double the number of calls the charity usually receives from struggling dog owners on an average day. 

Richard Moore, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Harefield, said: “In extreme cases, we’re finding people even buy dogs simply to keep their children occupied during the holidays. Gus was handed into us because his owners bought him to entertain the children during the summer holidays and then passed him to us for rehoming when the kids weren’t around during the day anymore. While the majority of dog owners regard their dogs as valued family members, it appears some may be using dogs as four-legged nannies over the holidays and disregarding them come September. We hope people will remember that a dog is for life and carefully consider this lifetime commitment before purchasing a dog.”

It’s not only ‘bark’ to school for kids, as Gus has been rehomed by an ex-teacher who turned her profession to helping hounds. Dog lover Donna Frost, 44, from Hertfordshire, has adopted Gus. Formerly a primary school teacher, Donna started volunteering with Dogs Trust in 2014 and decided to make the career move to become a Canine Carer. Donna fell for Gus, who has since become best four-legged friends with her three other dogs, including Honey the Greyhound.

With some owners giving up their dogs due to the return to the working routine and juggling the school run after the summer holidays, Dogs Trust Harefield is encouraging owners to bring their dogs to training classes – such as Dogs Trust Dog School London – to help overcome any issues.

Maria Wickes, Head of Dogs Trust Dog School, explains: “Sadly it does seem to be a recurring trend that we see more dogs handed into us as soon as children go back to school. In many cases dogs are not equipped to deal with this change in routine and may start displaying undesirable behaviour. We hope that anyone struggling to control their dog’s behaviour after the summer holidays will consider giving them up a last resort and instead sign up for training classes.”

Dogs Trust Dog School London classes operate in Uxbridge and Camden and are available throughout the year. To find out more, including how to register for a place, please visit

The charity also offers free workshops at schools, community centres, libraries and various locations to educate families about the responsibilities and commitment involved in dog ownership, and providing support on how to have a fulfilling and safe relationship with their four-legged friend. To find out more, seek advice or to book a workshop please visit