Owners who fail to socialise and obedience-train dogs at an early stage are fuelling “frightening” levels of problem behaviour in their pets, according to a report by a veterinary charity.
Children should be taught at school how to be good owners in the face of research showing “fundamental” gaps in knowledge about animal welfare, the PDSA said.
The charity said 1.3 million dogs across the UK were displaying “problem behaviour” with nearly one in three, of dog owners reporting being bitten or attacked by a dog.
An online survey for the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2012 was conducted by YouGov and surveyed 3,956 dog, cat and rabbit owners 446 vets and veterinary nurses and 553 children between March and May.
It found more than half of dog owners said they knew someone who had been bitten or attacked by a dog while a separate survey of children found nearly two thirds reported having been frightened or scared by a dog’s behaviour.
In some cases dogs have been deliberately trained to be aggressive but the primary cause of anti-social behaviour in dogs was a lack of socialisation and basic obedience training when dogs are young, the report said.
A majority of dogs, at 61 per cent, had not attended training classes within their first six months of life, according to the findings.
A quarter of owners in Leeds reported that their dogs show problem behaviour, including growling or snarling, and aggression towards people and other animals on a regular basis.
PDSA senior veterinary surgeon, Sean Wensley said: “Each year there are awful stories of dogs attacking pets and people, sometimes with fatal consequences.
“Tackling this begins with owners and breeders taking full responsibility for their dogs’ behaviour and adequately socialising and training them from a young age.”