‘Concerning rise’ in dog aggression following pandemic puppy boom

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Half of vets in the UK have reported a rise in the number of clients concerned about their dogs’ increasing aggression over the last 12 months, according to a new survey of the veterinary profession.The new statistics was released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

“While vets in the survey were often unsure about the exact age of the dogs involved, in cases where the age was known, 87 percent of dogs were believed to be under three years of age, highlighting the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on puppies bought over lockdown,” BVA says in a statement. “Almost one in four (24 percent) vets also reported an increase in the number of pets they had treated in the last 12 months who were injured as a result of aggressive behaviour by dogs.”

“It is estimated that around 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet in the first year of the pandemic, with the proportion of people owning a dog increasing when compared to early 2020. Pandemic puppy owners were more likely to be first-time dog owners, were less likely to seek out a breeder that performed health testing on their breeding dog(s), or view their puppy in-person.”

The new statistics were released ahead of the BVA Live conference in Birmingham on 11 May, where vets gathered to gain insight into the issue of dog aggression at the BVA Live session on ‘Supporting Pandemic Puppies in Practice’, which considered the emotional, cognitive and behavioural impact of the pandemic on puppies born and reared during lockdown periods, and how this may result in aggression.

British Veterinary Association’s Senior Vice President Justine Shotton said, “Whilst these new statistics are extremely worrying, they are not unexpected. Vets and animal charities have been raising concerns around the long-term impacts of the pandemic puppy boom, when owners were unable to access adequate training and socialisation opportunities that are so important for development in the first few months of their lives.

signs of aggression

“At the British Veterinary Association, we urge pet owners who are concerned about their dog’s behaviour to talk to a vet, who will be able to check for any underlying medical issues that could be causing issues, give advice and refer to an ABTC-accredited veterinary behaviourist. Don’t delay seeking help, as poor behaviour can deteriorate and can become harder to deal with as a dog matures.

”We also continue to urge the importance of always doing proper research and using the Puppy Contract to make sure you’re buying a healthy puppy from a responsible source. Make sure that your puppy has lots of positive opportunities for socialisation with humans of all ages, other animals, different environments, various noises and everyday experiences, including visits to your vet practice.”

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