I recently read an interesting article in ‘Science Direct’ from Applied Animal Behaviour Science which discussed the impact attending training classes had on a companion dogs behaviour. The published report was based studies carried out in Australia in 2006. The report was written by Pauline Charmayane Bennet and Vanessa Ilse Rohlf.
Basically what they are saying is that a lot of companion dogs occupy a priviledged life style, living with owners who take care of their every needs and desires. Some going to great lengths to provide the very best for their canine companions. However others are not so fortunate and often find themselves abandoned, killed, given up for adoption, which most ultimately get put to sleep, and the main reason is that they are believed to exhibit behaviour problems. The aims of the study were to investigate the frequency of the problematic experienced by the owners sample and whether these behaviours were associated with demographic variables, involvement in dog training activities and participation in other dog - human interactions.
the problematic behaviours were split into five main categories;
The results of the questionnaires and interviews carried out by the researchers indicated that engagement in training activities showed lower scores for many of the behaviours described above. The studies also showed that the perceived friendliness of the dogs who took part in training activities with their owners was improved.
dogs who are given up for adoption or abandoned and end up in rescue centres is an ever increasing significant animal welfare issue. Our rescue centres are bulging to capacity right now. If these studies are to be believed then a lot of these dogs could have avoided ending up in rescue centres had they been taken to training classes. Its no secret that misbehaving dogs are responsible for road accidents, community disputes, property damage and unfortunately as we see all to often in the media personal injury and even death.
Another study in Australia conducted by Kobelt et al. (2003) found that overexcitement and jumping up on people were very common behaviours among dogs, as were rushing at people or other dogs and excessive barking. These behaviours were primarily associated with general disobedience, owner experience and THE AMOUNT OF TIME BY THE OWNER WITH HIS OR HER DOG, and that dogs that attended training classes were more likely to obey their owners commands. (Clark and Boyer, 1993), also produced a report that stated “that participation in obedience training is associated with a significantly reduced prevalence of canine behaviour problems, and an increased probability of a positive outcome following adoption of a dog from a welfare shelter”.
I hear you say ‘Well obviously’. And so you might. However the report also goes on to suggest that most surprisingly only 24% of the dog owners who took part in the survey attended any kind of dog training. Now I hear you say “yes but thats Australia”.
A PDSA report published in 2012 surveyed 3,956 pet owners in the UK. The report looked at five different categories.
In this report it showed that 53% of households own a pet.
23% of households own a dog. Thats at least 8.3 million dogs.
This report suggest that 5.3 million dogs never attend training classes in the UK.
25% of UK dog owners who had their dogs from pups did not adequately socialise them within the first 6 months of their lives.
In 2011 the PAW Report revealed that over one million dogs display aggressive behaviour towards people and pets on a weekly basis which includes growling, snarling, and biting.
“Good puppy socialisation and training classes undoubtedly help to reduce the initial development of dog 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”.
PG Dip (CABC) CCAB, Clinical Animal Behaviourist.
The PDSA report goes on to state that “Problem dog behaviour is most often due to lack of training and little or no socialisation”.
By encouraging more people to attend training classes with their new pups and or rescue dogs we can turn the tide on dogs developing problem behaviours and reduce the amount of dogs ending up in rescue centres with little or no hope of ever being rehomed and ultimately being put to sleep.