A shocking new animal welfare report by leading veterinary charity, PDSA, reveals millions of pets are more aggressive, overweight and misunderstood than ever.  1.3 million dogs across the UK are displaying problem behaviour, 18.5 million dogs, cats and rabbits are being fed deadly diets, and 11.2 million pets are at risk of life threatening disease due to not being vaccinated or neutered.

The 2012 PAW report, which captures the views of pet owners, the veterinary profession and for the first time, children, lifts the lid on some of the most concerning health and welfare issues facing the pet population.  PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, Nicola Martin, says: “The new PAW Report findings do make for difficult reading especially considering virtually all of the issues we have investigated are entirely preventable.”

The Report reveals frightening levels of problem behaviour in dogs, with growling, snarling and aggression towards people and other animals happening on a regular basis. The highest levels of problem behaviour are seen in Northern Ireland and the East of England. Of the owners surveyed for the PAW Report, 24% in Northern Ireland reported that their dogs show problem behaviour on a regular basis. The area of the UK with the least reported problem behaviour in dogs was Wales (8%). 

The Report warns that while in some cases dogs are deliberately trained to be aggressive, the primary cause of the anti-social behaviour is a lack of socialisation and basic obedience training when dogs are young - 61% of dogs (5.3 million) never attended training classes within their first six months of life, an increase of 11% on last year’s figure.  What is encouraging is that 95% of pet owners believe that dog owners must take full responsibility for their dog’s behaviour; key to this is educating owners on the importance of training and socialisation.

David Ryan, Clinical Animal Behaviourist and former Chair of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors says: “Good puppy socialisation and training classes undoubtedly help to reduce the initial development of aggression, but it is also essential to provide our pets with guidance in good behaviour, at home and elsewhere, throughout their lives. Training should be synonymous with ‘living with’ and never stops.”