Pandemic puppy boom has led to a surge in dog AGGRESSION in the UK

Pandemic puppy boom has led to an ‘extremely worrying’ rise in dog AGGRESSION in the UK, vets warn

  • Half of vets reported a rise in owners worried about their dog’s aggression
  • 87 per cent of dogs were believed to be under three years of age 

The lockdown boom in pet ownership has led to an ‘extremely worrying’ rise in aggressive behaviour by dogs, according to a survey of vets.

Half of vets in the UK have reported a rise in the number of clients concerned about their dogs’ increasingly aggressive behaviour over the last 12 months, the survey shows.

While vets in the survey were often unsure about the exact age of the dogs involved, in cases where the age was known, 87 per cent of dogs were believed to be under three years of age.

Almost one in four (24 per cent) of vets also reported an increase in the number of pets they had treated in the last 12 months who were injured as a result of aggressive behaviour by dogs.

The British Veterinary Association, who commissioned the survey, said the findings highlight the longer-term impacts on puppies bought over lockdown in 2020-2021.

The lockdown boom in pet ownership has led to an ‘extremely worrying’ rise in aggressive behaviour by dogs, according to a survey of vets (stock image)

The study found that 12 per cent of dog owners say their pet growls, snaps or bites unfamiliar dogs

Like owner, like dog! You and your pooch probably have the same personality, study claims – READ MORE 

A study has found that those that have the best relationship with their furry friend actually have the same personality as them (stock image)

An estimated 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet in the first year of the pandemic, with the proportion of people owning a dog increasing when compared to early 2020.

Pandemic puppy owners were more likely to be first-time dog owners, were less likely to seek out a breeder that performed health testing on their breeding dog(s), or view their puppy in-person.

A 2022 Royal Veterinary College study, funded by the BVA’s animal welfare charity, Animal Welfare Foundation, predicted the risk of behavioural problems in some pandemic puppies bought during 2020.

British Veterinary Association’s Senior Vice President Justine Shotton said: ‘Whilst these new statistics are extremely worrying, they are not unexpected. 

‘Vets and animal charities have been raising concerns around the long-term impacts of the pandemic puppy boom, when owners were unable to access adequate training and socialisation opportunities that are so important for development in the first few months of their lives.

‘At the British Veterinary Association, we urge pet owners who are concerned about their dog’s behaviour to talk to a vet, who will be able to check for any underlying medical issues that could be causing issues, give advice and refer to an ABTC-accredited veterinary behaviourist. 

‘Don’t delay seeking help, as poor behaviour can deteriorate and can become harder to deal with as a dog matures.

‘We also continue to urge the importance of always doing proper research and using the Puppy Contract to make sure you’re buying a healthy puppy from a responsible source. 

‘Make sure that your puppy has lots of positive opportunities for socialisation with humans of all ages, other animals, different environments, various noises and everyday experiences, including visits to your vet practice.’


– Dogs have been shown to trigger the release of the ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin in their owners

– The chemical lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress

– Our canines also cause our brains to disperse the ‘pleasure hormone’ dopamine

– This boosts your mood and long-term memory

– Eye contact and touch are potent triggers of oxytocin and dopamine

– This means social dog breeds like labrador and golden retrievers are more likely to illicit oxytocin release

– Breeds that are more independent of humans like Great Pyrennes may bring out a lower oxytocin response

– Dogs we perceieve as aggressive, such as bull dogs or German shepherds, initiate the fight-or-flight response

– This triggers the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline

– These chemicals raise blood pressure and heart rate and can suppress the immune system long-term

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