One Third of Canine Have a Behaviour Concern, Research Exhibits


The commonest issues are concern, particularly concern of loud noises, and never doing what the guardian needs, reminiscent of not coming when referred to as.

A happy black and white dog in the long grass in summer in Denmark
Picture: Mikkel Bendix/Pexels

By Zazie Todd PhD

New analysis revealed within the Journal of Veterinary Habits reveals that in case your canine has a behaviour challenge, you’re not alone. 

Importantly, the research relies on a consultant pattern of canine guardians in Denmark, which implies the outcomes are an correct perception into all canines there. The findings counsel that we have to pay extra consideration to behavior points in canines.

Dr. Iben Meyer (Division of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, College of Copenhagen), first creator of the research, instructed me,

“The estimated prevalence of proprietor reported behaviour issues in canines was a lot increased than what’s present in veterinary data from major veterinary observe. This factors to a necessity for veterinarians to focus extra on screening for behaviour associated issues and to offer an area for the proprietor the place such points may be raised.”

One third (34%) of canines have some type of behaviour drawback. The commonest points had been associated to concern and to disobedience, which included leaping up, barking, and never coming when referred to as. Aggression was reported much less usually on this research than in different research. When aggression did happen, it was sometimes not in direction of individuals, however in direction of different canines. Meyer says,

“Though issues with aggressive behaviour in canines are very exhausting to stay with, they don’t seem to be essentially the most prevalent issues skilled by canine house owners. And for these house owners who do expertise problematic aggression of their canine, aggression in direction of conspecifics, relatively than in direction of people, is essentially the most prevalent drawback. So, maybe we have to focus much more on the right way to forestall concern in canines, and the right way to assist our canines to develop social behaviors that promote profitable interactions with different canines.”

The scientists discovered some attention-grabbing associations, together with that when individuals practice their canine extra usually, the canine is much less prone to have points with aggression and fewer prone to be disobedient. Though it is a correlation, it appears very seemingly that coaching would scale back the frequency of those points. Nevertheless, not like in earlier analysis, there was no hyperlink between common actions with the canine and decrease ranges of concern, except attendance at canine coaching lessons which was protecting. Older canines had been extra prone to be obedient, which might mirror coaching ranges or that folks and their canines have realized to stay collectively higher.

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One other attention-grabbing discovering is that canines who got extra time off-leash had been much less prone to be aggressive to different canines than those that had much less time off-leash. On this case it’s harder to evaluate the causal course, because it could possibly be that point off-leash provides canines alternatives to socialize with different canines, but it surely is also that canines who usually are not pleasant to different canines are much less prone to be allowed off-leash. 

This end result was particular to time off-leash, whereas earlier analysis has discovered the same connection however with total stroll time as an alternative. This means that extra analysis is required into how canines behave off-leash and the potential advantages for them. Being off-leash provides canines extra alternative and likewise provides them extra freedom to interact in species-specific behaviours, one thing which is taken into account vital for good animal welfare.

The research additionally discovered a hyperlink between concern and aggression in canines and medical points reminiscent of ache. Meyer instructed me, 

“There’s an rising consciousness about this connection between bodily and psychological well being, and it’s one thing that each professionals and house owners should be very conscious of after we encounter problematic behaviour in our companion animals.”

There was additionally a hyperlink with residing scenario, as canines who stay in flats had been extra prone to have behaviour points than those that stay in a home or farm. It wasn’t a rural/city divide, and it’s not identified if being in an condominium means canines usually tend to be afraid of noises they hear from close by flats, or if totally different sorts of individuals stay in flats (and subsequently deal with their canines in a different way).

Most analysis on behaviour issues in canines has used a comfort pattern which, though very helpful, can introduce some bias. For instance, surveys of people that take their canine to the vet for a behaviour challenge will seemingly get individuals with extra severe points, in any other case they’d not have gone to the vet within the first place. In the meantime, questionnaires circulated on the web usually tend to be accomplished by the type of one who is sufficient in canines to observe social media pages about canine behaviour.

On this new Danish research, 11% of individuals reported issues with their canine not being obedient. Worry of noises was put at 10%, which is decrease than present in different research (together with one which suggests many canine guardians miss the indicators). Aggression and concern of different canines had been reported in 8% and seven% of canines, respectively, whereas aggression in direction of unfamiliar individuals was reported in 3% of canines and in direction of the guardian in lower than 1% of canines.

Simply over 5,000 individuals took half within the research, aged between 18 and 89. If that they had a couple of canine, they answered the questions for the canine whose identify got here first alphabetically.

That is solely the second scientific research to make use of a consultant pattern to analyze canine behaviour on this manner. The earlier one in Victoria, Australia, discovered increased ranges of behaviour points, together with 49% of canines with concern of loud noises, 35% barking an excessive amount of, and 30% with separation nervousness (Howell et al 2016). Within the UK, the Individuals’s Dispensary for Sick Animals publishes an annual Paw Report based mostly on a consultant pattern of pet guardians. Their 2023 Paw Report is simply out and reveals that leaping up is the commonest behaviour challenge there (28%) adopted by barking (24%), with 13% displaying indicators of concern.  

Earlier analysis has proven that there’s potential for veterinarians to extend the behaviour help they provide and to work along with reward-based canine trainers (Shalvey et al 2019). The American Animal Hospital Affiliation has canine and feline behaviour administration tips for vets that embody a questionnaire that can be utilized to display screen for behaviour points in canines.  

The excessive prevalence of behaviour points on this research reveals that we have to pay extra consideration to them, as they will mirror poor welfare for the canine, trigger stress for the guardian, and negatively have an effect on the human-animal bond.  

In case your canine has a behaviour challenge, it’s higher to hunt assist sooner relatively than later (see how to decide on a canine coach) and to coach utilizing reward-based strategies. For any sudden behaviour change, see your vet in case of medical points. In case your canine is fearful, try my put up on 8 ideas to assist fearful canines really feel secure.  You’ll additionally discover loads of ideas in my guide, Wag: The Science of Making Your Canine Comfortable—and look out for my guide on the right way to assist anxious, fearful, and reactive canines, coming subsequent yr!  

Do you have got any points along with your canine’s behaviour?

Helpful hyperlinks:


Howell, T. J., Mornement, Ok., & Bennett, P. C. (2016). Pet canine administration practices amongst a consultant pattern of householders in Victoria, Australia. Journal of Veterinary Habits, 12, 4-12.

Meyer, I., Forkman, B., Lund, T.B. & Sandøe, P. (2023) Habits issues in canines—an evaluation of prevalence and danger elements based mostly on responses from a consultant pattern of Danish house owners. Journal of Veterinary Habits, 69-70:24-31.

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