New Data from Dogs Trust Reveals Behavioural Issues Driving Owners Barking Mad

Border terrier

Dogs Trust, the UK’s leading dog welfare charity, has unveiled startling new data highlighting some of the most common behavioural issues facing dog owners in the UK.

According to data released this week from Dogs Trust’s free Behaviour Support Line, separation anxiety and reactivity to people and other dogs are the most prevalent issues among owners seeking support. Barking and guarding type behaviours also rank in the top five problem behaviours.

The data further reveals the breed of dogs most frequently mentioned in calls to the Behaviour Support Line. While most calls concern crossbreed dogs, including designer crossbreeds such as Cockapoos and Labradoodles, Cocker Spaniels, Border Collies, and French Bulldogs are also high on the list.

The Behaviour Support Line was launched in 2022 in response to feedback from the charity’s National Dog Survey, which found that around 83% of dogs exhibited at least one “undesirable behaviour.”

To help continue shaping its services, Dogs Trust is once again calling on dog lovers to participate in the country’s largest dog census, the National Dog Survey. With more than a third of all UK homes now shared with at least one dog, the nation’s largest dog welfare charity wants to hear from owners on everything from common canine behaviour traits to day-to-day habits and relationships with their four-legged friends.

Running until 14th June, Dogs Trust’s National Dog Survey can be completed online at

Alarmingly, the results of the National Dog Survey over the past few years have also revealed some concerning techniques used by owners to improve their dog’s behaviour, many of which could be exacerbating the issues.

Some of the most startling methods include misguided attempts to mimic dog or wolf behaviour, stemming from the debunked “dominance theory” and the incorrect assumption that dogs are in competition with one another to become “pack leader” or “alpha.” These methods include:

  • Pinning dogs to the floor on their back and growling or shouting.
  • Squeezing dogs’ ears to imitate bites.
  • Rolling dogs onto their backs.

Other physical punishments mentioned included lifting dogs off the ground or smacking them on the nose. Dogs Trust strongly advises against these techniques and instead encourages owners to seek expert advice.

Katy Errock, Behaviour Support Line Manager at Dogs Trust, says:

“Problem behaviours such as reactivity and separation anxiety can affect the well-being of both dogs and their owners alike, and the results of our National Dog Survey show that some owners could be making the situation worse by using inappropriate methods to resolve the issues.

“It’s vital that owners seek expert advice as early as possible if they are struggling with any element of their dog’s behaviour.

“We want to hear from dog owners from across the UK so we can continue to provide the services that they need. The insights gained from this year’s National Dog Survey will ensure Dogs Trust can continue to adapt the way we support dogs and their owners, helping them to live the best lives possible together.”

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