CFBA Science Team: Dr Estella Vaz, Colin Tennant MA, Dr David Sands and Ross McCarthy MA
Growing evidence revealed by CFBA 2020/2021 Survey that dog-on-dog attacks are on the increase’
Dr David D Sands, Clinical Canine Companion Behaviourist CFBA Fellow and Companion ‘Animal Science’ Consultant January 2021
“dog-on dog attacks are clearly on the rise”
The UK is widely known as a nation of dog lovers. Yet, while owners can be seen walking a wide variety of dog breeds on streets, lanes, beaches, woodland, parkland and countryside walks, there is a dark, underlying statistic that should alert both the public and authorities that all is not well in the kingdom of companion dogs. A recent CFBA survey has indicated that dog-on dog attacks are clearly on the rise.
Responsible owners usually have an accepted level of control over their companion dogs. Some will have complete confidence in their pet’s obedience – on or off lead in public spaces – others some degree of control.
CFBA members, canine behaviour experts and competent dog trainers report that they are receiving a steady stream of reports of incidents where owners and dogs have been exposed to uncontrollable dogs with their dog walkers neglecting to offer an acceptable level of recall or control.
Concerned by the increasing number of accounts relating to dog-on-dog aggression in public spaces led to a consensus that the CFBA should develop a survey to establish if there is sufficient first hand evidence to confirm the anecdotal perception that incidents of dog aggression are steadily increasing year on year.
The survey was developed to gather data from an online survey. Each form featured 61 sections of relevant questions developed by a dedicated CFBA team. The document focused on dog ownership and the dog-on-dog incidents directly experienced by owners. This was independently distributed through Company of Animals – Our Dogs – CFBA and other sources, as a result, over 700 forms were completed and returned for analysis.
Dog walkers completing the survey forms have recited stories of walks rudely interrupted by the unacceptable behaviour of hyperactive or aggressive dogs. These episodes often cause emotional distress to owners and trigger long-lasting fear-responses in their own dogs. This can subsequently change dog- walks from a pleasant to an apprehension experience.
‘Survey reveals the true emotional and physical cost of increasing incidents in dog-on-dog attacks’
Often, these worrying episodes are from other out of control dogs, a significant distance away from their owners. Some of the most extreme incidents of dog aggression have resulted in trauma to owners and injuries requiring GP and hospital treatment for them and veterinary intervention for their dog.
When these acts of dog aggression involve injuries to animal-assistance and guide dogs, a single incident is known to undo at least a year of specialised training which is undertaken at significant cost.
The remit of the CFBA is to take a considered view on this and other topics involving dog ownership. The survey focus was to establish if dog-on-dog incidents are on the increase and if other significant aspects of dog ownership influenced the outcomes.
The overview aim of the survey is to provide up-to-date statistical data that could be made available to organisations and authorities responsible for reviewing current dog related legislation and provide information to help dog owners. It may even be the spur to encourage academic and professional dog trainers to combine forces with scientific and practical input to help deal with a growing issue affecting the healthy pursuit of most dog walkers.
The results of the survey may come as a surprise to some However, for the first time, this unique data can provide a clearer understanding for companion dog owners in respect of their personal experiences. In doing so, the statistics and analysis will be available to authorities and hopefully reach a wider public audience.
A summary may help to highlight the expectations and collective responsibilities of dog-walker when encountering other dogs in urban and rural public spaces.
The survey results have potential identified the potential limitations of The Dangerous Dog Act and Amendments which is primarily intended to protect members of the public from dog owners whose dogs are found to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in private dwellings and public spaces. While the act may criminalise owners found to have allowed their dog to be dangerously out of control, current laws fail to protect dog owners or their dogs when it has been found they have been exposed to incidents where their dog has been attacked by another dog.
The CFBA provides sufficient data to indicate there should be consideration for additional Dangerous Dog legislation to be in place that could criminalise an owner proven to have allowed their dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ and attack another dog.
Whilst applying The Dogs Act 1871 in civil law could have serious consequences for any convicted offender, including destruction of a dog, legal action in these cases but is more complex for individuals to initiate.
There were 703 on-line surveys completed as of the 25th March 2020. The majority of participants (92%) were located throughout the counties of England. The remaining participants were located in the rest of the United Kingdom and international participants (1%) also contributed.
Social Interactions of Pet Dogs - Canine & Feline Behaviour Association Scientific Survey 2020 - 2021
Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA) members reported via clients, personal encounters and media sources that currently, a growing number of dogs appear to react adversely when interacting with other dogs. This can result in aggressive displays of varying intensity toward other dogs, causing trauma to the dog and the owner. An aggressive dog, regardless of the root cause, is an issue in society and owners of dogs that are classified as ‘out of control’ under section 3 of the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 ¹ can be prosecuted. Therefore, as an organisation, the CFBA created a unique survey of dog owners to gain a better understanding of the current status regarding social interactions of our pet dogs, with a focus on incidents of dog directed aggression. In addition, other aspects of dog ownership were also considered to provide an overview of our pet dogs’ lifestyle. The overall aim being one of education, to allow us to use this research to help educate pet owners (and ourselves as an organisation), to enjoy the outside world with our dogs and interact safely with other dogs, pet owners and the general public.
MethodA survey was developed to gain the required overview of our pet dogs’ lifestyle, consisting of 61 questions and open to all breeds and stages of life. Each survey was designed to be answered for one dog, participants with multiple dogs in a household were invited to complete additional surveys. The survey questions were aimed to provide numerical data as to what is currently happening on a national scale and not the reasons why behaviours are happening. The data obtained, would identify topics of interest for further investigation. Survey-based studies are a standard way to gather data from a large population set. However, data gained from survey-based studies do have limitations, due to the subjectivity of the participant answering the question and the design of the survey itself. The survey was embedded into the CFBA website and links were shared via social media from the primary sources of the Canine & Feline Behaviour Association, Guild of Dog Trainers and Our Dogs Newspaper, and by electronic mail from the Company of Animals. The survey was available for two months and closed on 25th March 2020.
There were 703 online surveys completed as of the 25th March 2020. The majority of participants (92%) were located throughout the counties of England. The remaining participants were located in the rest of the United Kingdom and international participants (1%) also contributed.
The participants completing the survey represented all adult age ranges (Table 1) with middle aged adults (46 – 65 years old) being the most represented (59%).
Table 1: Age Range of Participants:
|Participants Age (years)||n (%)|
|18 - 25||27 (4%)|
|26 - 35||92 (13%)|
|36 - 45||96 (14%)|
|46 - 55||221 (31%)|
|56 - 65||196 (28%)|
|66 plus||71 (10%)|
When examining the human family that lived with the dogs participating in the survey, 60% lived with two adults, 19% with one adult, 14% with three adults and the rest with four or more adults. Furthermore, a high percentage of dogs (80%) were not living in the same household as children (Table 2), so have less familiarity to children’s mannerisms and behaviours.
Table 2: Number of Children in Participants Household:
|Children in Household (n)||n (%)|
|5 or more||1 (0%)|
The high number of dogs living in a child free household can be attributed to either participants having no offspring, or having older children who have either left home or have been included as part of the household adult count.
When analysing companion dogs in each household, data showed that almost half of the participants (47%) owned one dog (Figure 1). This is at odds with surveys performed by the pet food manufacturers association (pfma) which reported UK data in 2017 and 2019 that 74% and 72% respectively, were single dog households. Due to the surveys primary distribution channels, it is possible that our survey includes a higher proportion of breeders and dog professionals, who tend to own multiple dogs.
In addition to a dog, 40% of the participants owned other pets. Our survey indicated that the most frequent pet dogs lived with was a cat, 24% (n=166) of participants owning a cat, either on its own or in combination with a variety of other pets.
Results and Discussion
Dogs Background Analysis
All age ranges were covered by the survey. The majority of dogs (80%) were adult dogs (2 years and over). The remaining dogs were primarily adolescents (15%), and puppies. The breeds recorded in the surveyed dog population were:
- 75% of dogs, accounted for 116 different recognised breeds, three quarters of these have pedigree papers. Labrador Retrievers, German shepherd dogs and Cocker Spaniels were the most popular recognised breeds and accounted for 148 of dogs in the survey.
- 21% of dogs, were identified as either a Poodle cross, mixed / mongrel or crossbreed (other than Poodle).
- 4% of dog breeds could not be determined as participants incorrectly entered more than one dog in the text field.
Gender of dogs were generally balanced in the survey with male dogs accounting for 55%, and just over two thirds (65%) of dogs that took part were neutered. The survey showed that the majority of the dogs were neutered during adolescence and early adulthood (Figure 2), with 58% being neutered between 6 months – 1 year old.
As indicated previously, recognised breeds made up three quarters of the surveyed dog population. Therefore, it is not surprising that 70% of dogs in the survey were obtained from a breeder (Table 3). With 60% of participants having obtained their dog under 12 weeks of age (Table 4).
Table 3: Surveyed Dog Population Obtained From:
|Dog obtained from||n (%)|
|House Breeder||357 (51%)|
|Kennel Breeder||134 (19%)|
|Rescue Centre||117 (17%)|
|Pet shop||2 (0%)|
|Other source||54 (8%)|
Before obtaining a dog, 505 participants saw the dam, and 270 participants saw the sire of their puppy.
Table 4: Age of Puppy / Dog When Obtained.
|Age of puppy / dog when obtained||Participants (%)|
|Under 12 weeks||422 (60%)|
|12 weeks - 6 months||129 (18%)|
|6 months - 2 years||79 (11%)|
|2 years or more||73 (10%)|
Dog Training Analysis
Dog training, whether at basic or advanced levels, provides a set of conditioned actions that the owner can access to communicate with their dog. There are different styles and views on training [3-8], it was not the aim of this survey to investigate the training technique used to train the dog. The questions asked were aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the training undertaken. The results obtained are provided in Table 5.
Table 5: Dog Training Results
|Questions on dog training||Yes n (%)||No n (%)|
|Have you self-trained your dog in obedience?||572 (81%)||131 (19%)|
|Have you attended a dog training club with your dog?||516 (73%)||187 (27%)|
|Has a professional dog trainer helped you train your dog?||450 (64%)||253 (36%)|
|Have you ever consulted a canine behaviourist about your dog?||204 (29%)||499 (71%)|
|Does your dog pull on the lead?||281 (40%)||422 (60%)|
|Is your dog allowed off-lead during daily exercise?||571 (81%)||132 (19%)|
Data showed that club training remains an important place for owners to learn skills with nearly three quarters of the surveyed dog population taken to a training club at some point in their life.
Loose lead walking and recall are two basic training skills that are taught to dogs from puppyhood. Yet, these two skills are the ones that owners generally have issues with outside of the training hall / environment. Considering the number of participants in the survey who either self-trained their dogs, attended a training club or used the services of a professional trainer, 40% of dogs pulled on the lead when walking. There were 33 dogs in the survey that were aged ‘6 months and under’ so may not have been fully trained yet. However, a significant number of dogs remain (n=248 once puppy figures are removed) that do not walk on a loose lead. Suggesting that training methods or the transfer to ‘everyday life’ of this particular skill may not be effective. It is noted, that some participants may disregard the importance for a dog to walk without pulling on the lead, so without understanding this variable only a partial conclusion can be made.
Data identified that 81% of the dogs that took part in the survey are allowed off-lead during daily exercise. However, 2% of the total number of participants indicated that their dog has no recall and 27% indicated that their dog sometimes returns. Therefore, nearly a third of dogs surveyed had unreliable or no recall. When put into context, these results indicate that only 87% of the dogs surveyed that are allowed off-lead are considered to have a reliable recall.
Of the 2% of owners that indicated that their dog doesn’t return to them (n=16 out of a total of 703 participating dogs). The primary reason for their dogs not recalling was hunting or scavenging (45%), followed by smelling (27%), meeting other dogs (12%), meeting people (9%) and playing (6%).
Dog on Dog Social Interaction Analysis
Dog social interactions are complicated, and problems with dog directed aggression can be the result of a number of factors, such as genetics, environment, development and social learning [9-13]. In the CFBA survey, 60% of participants indicated that their dog enjoys meeting other dogs and considered them as having a friendly attitude. A further 13% indicated that their dog doesn’t like meeting dogs, and the remaining owners identified that size, breed, gender or colour were contributing factors to their dog socially interacting with others (Figure 3). It must be noted that owner personality  and perception of other dogs could influence their dog’s ability to socially interact.
Of the 40% of dogs that struggled with social interactions, 5% were classed by the participants as having an aggressive attitude, 16% as ignoring others dogs and the remaining classed as nervous or fearful.
The majority of participants (73%) indicated that their dog does not attack or challenge others. However, 3% (n=24) were classed as having attacked or challenged other dogs and a further 24% (n=167) have sometimes attacked or challenged others. Therefore, 191 of our 703 participants have dogs that attack or challenge other dogs. These results are similar to a study performed by Casey et al  in 2012, they reported that 22% of UK owners identified their dog as aggressive (barking, lunging, growling or biting) to unfamiliar dogs.
Table 5 identified that 132 participants did not allow their dog off lead for exercise, yet 191 of the dogs in our study are known to attack or challenge other dogs. Only 7 participants identified that they use a muzzle during a walk.
Unfortunately, results showed that 54% (n=380) of the dog population in our survey had been either attacked or challenged by another dog. The definition of ‘attack or challenge’ was not described by the authors of the survey.
When analysing the impact of an attack or challenge on the dog, just over half (58%) of the dogs that were attacked or challenged currently had no change of reaction toward other dogs. The remaining dogs (42%, n=160) that were attacked or challenged, were affected socially developing avoidance behaviours (11%) or aggressive displays of barking / lunging / biting (25%), with 6% recorded as being scared of other dogs.
One of the reasons people bring a dog into their life is to go on walks with them and dogs are walked in a variety of places all over the United Kingdom. The participants (n=380) that have encountered dog attacks or challenges were required to indicate the year and place of the incident (participants could enter multiple incidents for that single dog). It must also be noted that only half of the dogs in the survey were alive pre-2016, leading to a smaller data set. Figure 4 shows the results obtained.
In total there were 923 events recorded, indicating that dogs in our survey may have experienced multiple attacks or challenges from unfamiliar dogs. The area where most attacks and challenges have occurred are public parks, with 69 incidents recorded for 2019 alone. The areas with least attacks are national parks and beaches or coastal paths. These areas could be lower risk, due to limited accessibility with the majority of dogs only visiting the beach for a day trip or holiday.
According to the data set, since 2018 there has been a significant rise of incidents in all areas. Interestingly ‘attacks in the street’ was identified as the place where the most attacks or challenges occurred during the first quarter of 2020 (n=30). This surge may be related to the memory being fresh, or dogs being more likely to be walked on streets over winter months.
The survey was made available during February – March 2020, therefore data for attacks is restricted to the first quarter of 2020. However, the limited 2020 figures gathered provided sufficient data to identify a rise in comparison to previous full years. The data set gathered has limitations due to the accuracy of human memory , increase in study dog population numbers over time and the subjectivity of participants. However, the data suggests incidents are increasing.
Dog on dog encounters also have a post episode effect on the handler of the dog that had been attacked or challenged. 36% of the participants who indicated they had been subjected to an encounter, recorded that their walk was less relaxed and a further 14% reported subsequently walking different routes. We consider it an unacceptable statistic that 27% of the total participants in the study had experienced negative dog on dog encounters that had a long-term effect on their daily walks.
Half of the dogs that attacked the participants’ dog approached with aggressive behaviour, while only 7% were classed as approaching with fearful behaviour. A further 32% of the dogs were attacked by dogs that initially approached displaying friendly or playful behaviour. Not all handlers have the same experience and knowledge regarding the subtleties of canine body language, which can be difficult to read especially from a distance [17, 18]. Furthermore, handlers could be less likely to interpret the signals their dogs are projecting onto the oncoming dog, which can initiate negative encounters.
Results indicated that the number of dogs being attacked or challenged are balanced between on-lead to off-lead. However, the attacking dogs were predominately off-lead (88%) with their owner in sight (82%). Of the participants that had experienced an attack or a challenge, 200 of them indicated that the attacking dog’s owner had tried to recall their dog ineffectively. A highly significant statistic is that, in 205 encounters participants reported that the attacking dog’s owner did not take responsibility for their own dog’s behaviour. This means that just over half of the attacked dogs’ owners (54%) had to deal with the incident that had been initiated by someone else’s out of control dog.
27% of the 380 participants having reported an attack or challenge, indicated that these were non-contact events. These dogs were likely to have been subjected to challenging behaviour. The remaining 73% (n=278) of dogs were subjected to attacks where bodily contact was made between dogs. Only 45 dogs were recorded as having to receive veterinary treatment because of the injuries they received during the attack. When this figure is taken into context over all participants in the study, 6% of dogs received injuries significant enough for veterinary treatment to be required (no fatalities were recorded).
When the participants were asked to describe their own reactions during the dog attack, it was clear from the descriptions provided that for many the event was clearly a traumatic experience. There were a range of actions that the participants of this study took when finding themselves confronted by an aggressive encounter with a dog. Answers were collated and the most common actions are recorded in Table 6. The results recorded that only 19 participants identified that the attacking dog owner helped separate the dogs or took control of their dog without prompting.
Table 6: Participant Action Taken During a Dog on Dog Attack
|Verbal reaction (scream / shout) to scare or distract attacking dog.||71|
|Block the attacking dog with either the body, leg, foot or stick.||53|
|Physically restraining or pulling (or trying to pull) attacking dog off, by grabbing the collar / scruff / tail / back legs.||47|
|Manoeuvred / pulled own dog out of the way and moved away.||36|
|Recalled own dog and tried to move to area of safety.||31|
|Directly shouted at owner to control their dog (note: this action was also used in conjunction with other actions, where this happened it was classed as a secondary action and not counted here).||25|
|Kicked or hit attacking dog (including hitting with objects such as walking sticks and items that were in situ).||23|
Table 7: Areas of Injuries Received
|Injuries||Number of injuries received|
|Bites / lacerations to hands and / or fingers||10|
|Bites / lacerations to legs||6|
|Bites / lacerations to arms||4|
|Bites / lacerations to head or facial area||4|
|Bites / lacerations / bruising to undetermined body area||6|
From the overall participants (n=380) who indicated they were on the receiving end of an attack or challenge, only 23 reported the incident to the police and / or their local dog warden. This significant statistic does not encompass all the dog owners that recorded an injury by an attacking dog (n=31), taking into consideration that each injury was reportable under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 . The data research indicates a failure in the system, and potentially allows handlers to repeatedly offend, which may lead to further incidents that would cause trauma and injury to others (dog owners and canine) without any consequences.
Dog to Human Social Interaction Analysis
Outside the Home
The survey showed that 15% of the dogs didn’t like meeting strangers on walks. It is recognised that this figure was taken from a ‘yes or no’ based question, when in reality many interacting factors are involved to trigger a dog’s response to a stranger, so it is likely that this figure is possibly elevated . This is supported by Table 8, which shows the typical reaction of the participant’s dog when meeting a stranger (outside the home). From these results, 21 dogs behaved aggressively towards people (aggression was described as barking / snarling / lunging or biting) with 10 dogs recorded as having nipped or bitten a stranger during a walk.
Table 8: Dog Reaction to Strangers (outside the home)
|Calm and friendly||406 (58%)|
|Excited (bouncy / pulls on lead / very waggy tail)||227 (32%)|
|Fearful (tries to pull away / avoids / cowers / tucks tail under body)||49 (7%)|
|Aggressive (barks / snarls / lunges / bites)||21 (3%)|
Barking is a natural alert response form of communication for a dog. Dogs are highly likely to encounter a variety of stimulants during a walk, and in this research, we wanted to identify what are the main trigger points for barking. The options provided are urban driven, since public interaction is usually greatest within an urban setting. Figure 5 shows that of the 703 participating dogs, 296 do not bark during a walk. However, for those dogs that do bark, the top three triggers are: dogs, cats and strangers.
Dog to Human Social Interaction Analysis – In the Home
The survey showed that 14% of participant’s dogs can growl, bite or challenge visitors to the home. To understand this further, participants were required to choose the best description of their dog’s greeting to visitors (Figure 6). This question was designed to give a general overview of social interaction toward visitors. It is recognised that dogs can react differently towards known and unknown visitors and also a mixture of behaviours can be displayed when greeting a visitor (e.g. jumping up and excitability).
In comparison when visitors left, 95% of the dogs in the survey were classed as not bothered. The remaining dogs reacted by barking at the visitor as they left with only 2 dogs recorded as either lunging, snapping or biting the visitor.
The survey revealed that 10% of our participant’s dogs growl, bite or challenge family members, with ≤ 5% of the dogs displaying resource guarding behaviours (Table 9), with treats and chews being a popular item of value [20,21].
Table 9: Results to Show Dog’s Reactions
|Dog’s reaction in the following situations:||No n (%)||Yes n (%)|
|Does your dog get aggressive when toys are taken from it?||688 (98%)||15 (2%)|
|Does your dog get aggressive when food / food bowl is removed or touched?||678 (96%)||25 (4%)|
|Does your dog get aggressive when treats / chews are taken from it?||667 (95%)||36 (5%)|
|Does your dog bark when someone is at the door?||224 (32%)||479 (68%)|
|Does your dog stop barking when you ask it to?||233 (33%)||470 (67%)|
|Does your dog bark at the post person?||441 (63%)||262 (37%)|
|Does your dog rip up your letters / papers?||627 (89%)||76 (11%)|
Daily Exercise Analysis
The survey showed that women were the main exercise provider with 73% of participants indicating that a woman owner walks the dog most often. Others walking the dog most often were male owners (23%), dog walker (2%), other family members excluding children (1%) and other (1%).
The data does not reveal the gender of person who completed the survey. It is therefore difficult to conclude if this is a true figure  or that women are more likely to complete these types of survey, which may have skewed the data.
The most frequent total daily length of time that participant’s dogs are walked for was indicated as between 1 – 1.5 hours (Figure 7).
During walks, 51% of participants regularly play with their dogs. A further 36% of participants sometimes played with their dogs during a walk and of our 703 dogs only 90 were not actively played with during a walk.
Dog owners have the possibility to use a wide variety of equipment while walking their dogs and the CFBA wanted to understand the participant’s preferences. Note, this question was to look at preference in general, not to justify the use of one piece of equipment over another.
From the results shown in Figure 8, the flat collar, body harness (no brands or harness styles were specified) and 1.2 m (4 ft) lead were the most popular options participants used to walk their dogs. Participants could choose multiple options.
Results indicated that leads were not used by all participants. Leads (various types) were chosen 463 times as a piece of equipment participants used to walk their dog.
Furthermore, the use of a muzzle is low (n=7), considering that as discussed previously, 10 dogs in the survey have bitten or nipped a stranger during a walk and 21 dogs were described as reacting aggressively towards strangers during the walk. However, insufficient data is available to understand these dogs’ behaviour and their exercise environment, to make an accurate conclusion.
Due to advances in canine nutrition and understanding, owners now are able to make informed choices regarding what they feed their dogs to maximise digestion and overall health. There is a wide variety of brands and types of commercial food that is now available.
Participants could choose multiple diet options as required. The results obtained showed that 50% of the time, participants fed their dog with kibble (dry food), followed by raw food (25%), wet food (18%) and lastly home cooked food (7%).
It was unexpected that raw food would be the second most popular food after kibble. However, a rise in popularity in raw food was also observed in polls performed by food website allaboutdogfood.co.uk. Our survey did not differentiate between participants using commercially available complete raw recipes or homemade raw meals.
Feeding regimes may be adjusted during the lifecycle of a dog or due to individual requirements. The survey indicated that 80% of participants fed their dog twice daily. The remaining participants fed their dogs once daily (12%), or three or more times (8%). The survey dog population included 33 dogs that were aged 6 months and under, which would account for half of the dogs that were fed three times or more daily. The kitchen remains the place where the majority (n=529) of participants fed their dog.
It was found that up to half of our survey dog population supplemented their food by faeces ingestion (coprophagia). Other species faeces (e.g. sheep, rabbit, cats) was favoured over canine faeces (Table 10).
Table 10: Coprophagia
|Does your dog eat …...||Yes n (%)||No n (%)|
|Its own faeces||39 (6%)||664 (94%)|
|Another dog’s faeces||56 (8%)||647 (92%)|
|Any other type of faeces (cats, sheep, rabbit etc.)||351 (50%)||352 (50%)|
Noise Sensitivity Analysis
Unexpected noises such as fireworks, gunshots, smoke alarms, house alarms, and traffic are known triggers for noise sensitivity in dogs. Fireworks are a common cause of a fearful response in many noise sensitive dogs  and every year magazine articles are published about how to support dogs during the firework and festive seasons.
The survey showed that only 17% (n=119) of participants indicated that their dog adversely reacted to noise. From these 119 dogs, owners identified that 89 reacted to fireworks, 33 reacted to alarms, 29 reacted to vacuum cleaner, 19 reacted to traffic and 62 reacted to ‘other’ noises. Many dogs that are noise sensitive are often sensitive to more than one noise therefore, the survey allowed participants to indicate multiple triggers. Fireworks were the primary noise that the dogs reacted to, however from the data gathered this only represented 13% of the total number of survey participants.
These results were lower than anticipated. Noise sensitivity in dogs has been investigated by various academic groups [23-28] and these show that the prevalence of noise sensitivity in dogs varies between 20% – 50%. When the CFBA survey results were compared to the literature, it was found that the data gathered was lower for noise sensitivity in dogs, especially for fireworks. The most obvious reason for this, is that the CFBA survey unlike the literature studies, was not designed to explore the behaviour profile for noise sensitivity, only to provide a basic yes or no answer if the participant’s dog reacted badly to noise and if ‘yes’ what it reacted to. Furthermore, survey questions are open to the participant’s subjectivity and interpretation of the question against their dog’s behaviour which can limit data sets .
Separation Related Behaviour Analysis
Separation related behaviours are associated with a wide range of causes and are often traumatic for both dog and owner. Therefore, questions were phrased to obtain a general overview of behaviour, to be able to identify if a further study was necessary. The survey showed that the majority of participants (93%) could leave their dog alone in the home for 2 hours or more without fuss.
Of the dogs (n=655) that could be confidently left alone in the home for 2 hours or more without fuss, participants were asked what length of time they would usually leave their dog alone for. As predicted, most participants (68%) left dogs alone for 3-4 hours which typically coincides with a lunch break visit in a working day. A small percentage of participants (3%) chose not to leave their dog alone for longer than 1 hour. At the other end of the time scale 4% of participants left their dogs alone for 8 hours or more. There was no frequency associated to these findings.
Further information from all participants was gathered regarding their dog’s behaviour in the home. The results are shown in Table 11.
Table 11: Behaviours in the Home.
|Behaviours in the home:||No n (%)||Yes n (%)|
|Is your dog destructive when left alone?||662 (94%)||41 (6%)|
|Does your dog howl / whine / cry when left alone?||643 (91%)||60 (9%)|
|Does your dog toilet indoors when left alone?||678 (96%)||25 (4%)|
|Does your dog toilet indoors when you are present?||685 (97%)||18 (3%)|
|Does your dog groom or lick itself excessively?||672 (96%)||31 (4%)|
|Does your dog chase shadows, lights or excessively chase its tail?||684 (97%)||19 (3%)|
|Does your dog show inappropriate sexual behaviour?||667 (95%)||36 (5%)|
The survey showed that the top three places for participant’s dogs to sleep were the bedroom (n=263), the kitchen (n=231) and the living room (n=174). Only 10 dogs were identified as sleeping outdoors in the garden or kennel. The bedroom has become the most frequent place where dogs sleep in the home with 26% of our survey dog population sleeping in or on the bed with a family member.
As an organisation, the CFBA wanted to gain a better understanding of the current social interactions of our pet dogs with a focus on incidents of dog directed aggression. The data gathered so far reflects a high percentage of companion dogs lack the expected level of positive social interaction skills, and 40% of the surveyed dog population display undesirable or antisocial responses when interacting with other dogs.
Furthermore, the data concluded that 54% of the surveyed dog population had been attacked or challenged by another dog. With 25% of these dogs going on to develop aggressive displays (barking/lunging/biting) to other dogs. Only 6% of the total surveyed dog population received injuries significant enough for veterinary treatment. Although dog fatalities are known to have occurred during episodes of dog-directed aggression, there is an absence of fatalities recorded in this survey.
The survey revealed that the place where the highest risk of your dog being attacked are public parks, and national parks the least likely place. However, results indicated that over the last two years there appears to have been an overall increase in dog directed aggression in all areas popular with dog walking, with 27% of participants in the survey suffering a long-term effect on their daily walk due to an attack from an out of control dog.
The survey showed that training schools and clubs are a popular place for owners to take their dogs. These should be places to teach skill sets relevant to living in a modern world with current laws or legislation, and to provide owners with support in transferring skills from the training environment. This is particularly the case with recall training, as a third of the surveyed dog population had unreliable or no recall. Dogs with weak recall skills can be an issue to others (regardless of the original intent of the dog) and a danger to themselves.
As an organisation, the CFBA has a remit to educate clients and dog owners regarding how to protect themselves and their dogs when under attack to minimise injury, as results indicated that the majority of attacking dog owners do not take control of their dog.
1. Dangerous Dog Act 1991
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