More unwanted dogs would be kept out of welfare centres if their owners could receive pet behaviour advice.
That’s the verdict of a survey of people calling Wood Green The Animal Charity to give up their dog.
Almost 25% of owners contacting the charity said they wouldn’t abandon their pet if advice and support was made available.
This intervention could potentially reduce the number of companion dogs needing to be rehomed annually – currently a devastating issue with more than 100,000 dogs entering UK rescue centres annually.
The research was carried out by Hartpury University graduate Natalie Powdrill-Wells, now welcome centre manager at Wood Green. The project analysed the call records of 1,131 relinquishment requests to establish if the offer of free behaviour advice was accepted.
Results showed that the advice was accepted in 24.4% of cases and behavioural problems were a significant predictor of whether advice was accepted. The advice was accepted almost six times more often by owners with dogs with general management behaviour problems, compared to owners who had problems with aggression between dogs in their home.
The data suggests that owners are prepared to accept behaviour advice at the very first point of contact with a rehoming centre or charity, so advice interventions could potentially impact the number of dogs handed over to rescue centres.
The impact of an intervention offering behaviour advice may be limited by overall levels of advice acceptance by owners and therefore complimentary proactive solutions should also be considered.
Natalie, a 2020 graduate from Hartpury’s MRes Animal Behaviour and Welfare programme, said: “This paper presents a really exciting insight into alternatives to having to give up a companion dog.
“With owners willing to accept behaviour advice instead of proceeding directly to rehome their dog, there is real potential to keep more dogs with families and reduce the stress and heartache involved for both parties.
“We hope that by sharing the findings it will present other animal welfare organisations with the opportunity to consider alternative ways to help more pets and people live better lives together.
“We’re really looking forward to taking this area of research further and attempting to understand more about the impact of interventions such as this one.”