Facts and Figures

By Rachel Casey | facts, dog, owner, behaviour, population, numbers, rescue


Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity with a network of 21 rehoming centres across the UK and Ireland, which care for over 15,000 dogs every year.

In 2016 33,000 calls were made to the Dogs Trust Contact Centre about handing over an unwanted dog. What’s more, one of the most common reasons given for handovers is that a dog has one or more behaviours that owners find it difficult to live with. This finding is backed up by UK wide research which identified behaviour problems as the most common reason for dogs to be given up for rehoming. Research has estimated that 130,000 dogs come into UK rehoming charities each year. It's also devastating that behaviour problems are the most common reason for dogs under 2 years of age to be put to sleep by vets.

Recent research has also highlighted the extent to which dog owners in the UK report problem behaviours in their dogs. For example, 49% of owners say that their dog shows behavioural signs of fear when they hear loud noises. Plus over a fifth of over 14,5000 owners in a survey told researchers that their dog showed some signs of aggression (e.g. barking, lunging or growling) at other dogs when out for a walk. In the same survey, five percent of owners said their dog had shown aggression towards unfamiliar people when they were out of the house. 

One of our biggest welfare concerns, is the number of dogs which are anxious when left home alone. Research suggests that 45% owners leave their dogs every day, and 28% dogs are left for over four hours. Worryingly, 13% of owners say that their dog has separation anxiety - where they bark, howl, toilet or cause destruction when left at home. However, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, because owners are generally not aware of problems because they are not there! More research is needed, but a recent study which filmed dogs remotely suggested that as many as 85% of dogs were anxious when left.

There are an estimated 8.5 million dogs in the UK, with 24% of households owning one or more dogs. This means that problem behaviours are occurring in millions of UK dogs. At Dogs Trust we want to do something about this. We care for and rehabilitate dogs coming into our centres with problem behaviours, but we also passionately believe that prevention is the best solution in the long term.  Which is why we have developed Dogs Trust Dog School.......