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“Undesirable behaviour” in dogs linked to early death
Among the most common types of "undesirable behaviour" included aggression, conflict with other pets, and attacking other dogs.

Study highlights the importance of owner education

A recent VetCompass study of dogs under the care of primary-care veterinary practices in England that died before three years of age showed that more than a third (33.7 per cent) died because of “undesirable behaviour”.

Scientists found that dogs with the highest risk of death were males, crossbreeds and certain breeds (the cocker spaniel, West Highland white terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier).

Moreover, the study concluded that dogs that exhibit undesirable behaviours may also be at risk of compromised welfare. This is either because of their own underlying emotional states (anxiety or fear) or because of the way owners try to rectify the problem (e.g. the use of electric shock collars).

“Our results highlight the importance of owner education regarding dog behaviour and what is natural behaviour for dogs to exhibit,” explained study co-author Caitlyn Boyd from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. “Human perception impacts whether a behaviour is deemed desirable or not. For example, one owner might not mind a dog who digs but a different owner would find it unacceptable.”

The study was carried out by researchers from several veterinary colleges and published in Animal Welfare by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). Among the most common types of "undesirable behaviour" recorded in the study included aggression, conflict with other pets, and attacking other dogs.

Caitlyn believes that improved education is necessary to enable owners to recognise “normal” healthy behaviour and identify emotional states, such as fear and anxiety. This would also help to improve the early reporting of behavioural concerns.

“Combining this with improved education of the veterinary profession offers opportunity for owners to find appropriate information on sourcing and raising a puppy and guidance concerning the management and potential resolution of undesirable behaviours,” she said.

“It is advised that young puppies are exposed to a complex environment in a controlled manner in order to produce a confident, resilient dog, who can cope with living alongside humans.

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Dogs Trust announces winners of vet student awards

News Story 1
 Cambridge vet student James Jewkes has been awarded first place in the annual Dogs Trust EMS Awards, for his paper on the threat of exotic infectious diseases in rehoming centres. James will now go on a two-week placement at the WVS International Training Centre in South India.

Each year the awards allow vet students to gain hands-on experience during work placements at 13 of the charity’s rehoming centres, then submit reports on a relevant subject.  

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Former RCVS president to chair new Horse Welfare Board

Former RCVS president Barry Johnson has been appointed as the independent chair of a new Horse Welfare Board. Barry, who is also past chairman of World Horse Welfare, was selected by an industry panel including the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and The Horsemen’s Group.

The welfare board aims to develop a new welfare strategy covering the whole racing industry. Mr Johnson said: “I’m very pleased to have been asked by racing to take on this role and by the sport’s commitment to continuous improvement in the welfare of racehorses."