Over four in 10 dog owners struggled to look after their pet as a puppy

By Richard Jenkins
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 9:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 9:25 am

A study of 2,000 people with dogs revealed that 17 per cent believe looking after a puppy is tougher than raising a baby.

And 30 per cent think the first two years of owning a pooch are the hardest, with 23 per cent admitting they had 'no idea' how much work went into training a puppy.

As a result, 21 per cent were left with ruined carpets because of their disobedient pet – while one in four had to bid goodbye to their chewed slippers.

Toilet training, not chewing the furniture and listening to demands such as 'SIT' were among the hardest things to train a new puppy on.

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    And owners spend an average of 21 hours a month on training after bringing a puppy home – 43 minutes a day.

    But it takes an average of six months of training to get the basics sorted.

    A rise in behavioural issues

    The stats emerged in a study by pet health and insurance company Bought By Many, which has seen a 87 per cent rise in behavioural issues between 2019 and 2021.

    Its figures also show that those with puppies aged under one are 62 per cent more likely to claim for a behavioural issue compared to just 16 per cent  of owners who have dogs aged between one and two.

    Volumes of claims continue to drop significantly after the dog reaches three years old.

    Sarah James, Vet Nurse at Bought By Many, said: “It’s well-known puppy training is time consuming and requires a lot of personal effort, but that doesn’t prepare owners for how overwhelming it can be.

    "The first few nights with a puppy can be sleepless and messy and the first year can feel like a struggle. But the good news is that owners are not alone.

    “Toilet accidents or chewing are all part of the puppy process and more challenging issues such as separation anxiety can be managed with time and patience – and occasionally professional support from vets and qualified behaviourists.

    “Lockdown presented thousands of owners the chance to welcome a dog home but working from home can present its own issues too and dog behaviourists and trainers around the country will be adapting their training courses to help owners with the ‘new normal’.”

    The study also found that of the one in five owners who picked up their pups during lockdown, 78 per cent were convinced they would have more time on their hands for training.

    But seven in 10 found combining working from home, with training a dog, much trickier than they had anticipated.

    More than a fifth (22 per cent) of all owners have even taken their dog to a vet, trainer or specialised behaviourist to help control their pet.

    It also emerged that owners estimate their dog has done damage worth £435 to their homes and personal belongings.

    Typically, puppies are a lot more accident-prone than adult dogs, with accidents claims at Bought By Many accounting for 22 per cent of puppy claims, but just 10 per cent of those for adult dogs.

    The top five most common breeds to claim in 2021 ranged from Cockerpoos and Cocker Spaniels to Labradors, Border Collies and French Bulldogs.

    Some breeds are easier to train

    It comes after three quarters of owners firmly believe some breeds are simply easier to train than others, according to the OnePoll figures.

    Bought By Many’s Sarah James added: “Some dogs will have a far more wilful nature than others or will need more mental or physical stimulation.

    “My number one recommendation is to do thorough research into exactly what kind of dog suits you best, not just from a training point of view, but all areas of the dog’s life and your lifestyle.

    “Will you be able to walk it as long and as often as it needs? If you don’t have a garden, are you ready to commit to a toilet schedule to ensure your pup gets out when they need to go? If you’re working from home, are you able to dedicate time away from your desk to training and engaging with your dog regularly?

    “Encouragingly, as your puppy matures and you both get into the swing of things, many initial problems will get easier.

    "There really is a dog breed for everyone, as long as you’re willing to put in the work and give it the TLC they deserve.”

    Dog owner Nick Simmons, 38, who lives with his nine-month-old Chihuahua, Mabel, in Brighton, said: “Getting a puppy feels a little like having a kid. No one mentions the gross bits.

    "Equally, once you have them you genuinely can’t imagine life without them.

    "I’ve never known someone so pleased to see me in the mornings or greeting me as if I’ve been away for years when I’ve only taken the rubbish out.

    “Unconditional love, endless amusement and buckets of personality more than makes up for the occasional accident, or total destruction of a work report when your back is turned.

    “The training pays off, the patience is rewarded, and what you get back is so much more than I ever expected.”

    Top 20 hardest things to train a dog to do, according to pet parents

    1.            How to walk with a lead, without pulling

    2.            Toilet training

    3.            Greeting people without jumping

    4.            How to behave when the doorbell rings

    5.            Learning to chew toys not furniture/shoes/slippers etc

    6.            Learning recall

    7.            To be comfortable meeting other dogs

    8.            To be left alone at home for short periods of time

    9.            To heel

    10.          To listen to commands

    11.          To stay

    12.          To avoid biting

    13.          To greet other dogs calmly or to not approach them

    14.          To be comfortable eating around others and not to steal food

    15.          To be comfortable meeting strangers

    16.          To sleep in their bed or crate

    17.          To stay calm at the sight of the postman

    18.          Travelling in the car or transport

    19.          To stop begging

    20.          To avoid being aggressive

    Top 10 breeds most likely to claim from bought by many for behaviour issues in 2021

    1.            Cockerpoo

    2.            Mongrel

    3.            Cocker Spaniel

    4.            Labrador Retriever

    5.            Border Collie

    6.            French Bulldog

    7.            Cavapoo

    8.            Dachshund

    9.            German Shepherd

    10.          Staffordshire Bull Terrier