More than one million dogs in the UK are displaying “problem behaviour”, causing children to become frightened of family pets, according to a veterinary charity.
Far from being man's best friend, dogs are exhibiting aggression and almost a third of dog owners have been bitten or attacked. The PDSA report, based on a YouGov poll of nearly 5,000 pet owners, vets and children, showed that half of people know someone who has been attacked by a dog and 65 per cent of children have been scared by an animal's behaviour.
The report was published a week after 71-year-old great-grandmother Gloria Knowles died after being mauled as she tried to feed her daughter's five dogs in her south-west London home.
Her death prompted renewed calls for tougher laws on dangerous dogs, and now the PDSA is urging owners to prevent their pets becoming one of Britain's 1.3 million unruly canines.
The charity said that the main cause of anti-social behaviour was a lack of social contact with other people and animals. Some 61 per cent of family pets had not been taken to training classes within their first six months.
Elaine Pendlebury, senior veterinarian with the PDSA, said owners needed to "take dog aggression seriously" and ensure that people research the breed they buy.
"What we don't want to see is a situation where people are frightened of dogs. A friend of mine has a well-trained Rottweiler, and when people see it they cross the road," she said.
PDSA senior Veterinary surgeon Sean Wensley said: "Tackling this begins with owners and breeders taking full responsibility for their dogs' behaviour."