Belfast Telegraph

Turn that pesky hound into the perfect pooch with a trip to Northern Ireland dog school

By Claire McNeilly

You can banish a badly behaved pooch to the proverbial doghouse - but ultimately you're the one who'll pay for it.

New research shows that dogs with behavioural problems are costing the average owner in Northern Ireland over £500 a year - and nearly £6,500 over the course of the pet's lifetime.

Despite this, a staggering 91% of dog owners here refuse to seek professional assistance in dealing with malcontent mutts.

Now, however, the Dogs Trust, which carried out the research into contrary canines, has taken the lead by opening dog schools.

And it means that help is at hand, especially for those who have reached the end of their own particular tethers - including in Ballymena, where, last year alone, the trust received hundreds of calls from people wanting to rehome their dogs.

The head coach for Dog School Northern Ireland, Lisa Doyle, said behavioural problems are a "massive welfare issue" because they are the main reason for dogs to be relinquished to Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres.

"In Northern Ireland we had 306 calls in 2016 from dog owners looking to hand their dogs to Dogs Trust Ballymena," she said.

"Dogs Trust Dog School was set up to deal with this problem at the source. We want to give owners the right information and skills to be able to live happy and fulfilling lives with their beloved dogs.

"Dog school is different from traditional training classes as it teaches your dog to fit happily into your family life.

"Although this includes things like sitting when asked and coming back when you call, it goes much further.

"We help your dog learn how to behave in everyday situations, such as when you pass other dogs in the street or need him to settle down when you're watching TV. Dog school is also about making sure you develop a strong bond with your dog, understand behaviour, and know how to react if things don't go to plan."

Despite people from Northern Ireland paying out an average of £6,464 throughout a dog's lifetime as a result of their dog's behaviour, 91% of dog owners in Northern Ireland have never had professional advice on training their dog, according to research.

It also emerged that one in four dogs are reported to not ever be let off the lead in Northern Ireland, while those dogs that are allowed off the lead in public can't be trusted to always come back when called, according to 60% of owners.

  • For more information on Dogs Trust Dog School in Northern Ireland, including how you can register for a place, visit

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