Cathy Dobbs: Is our obsession with dogs getting out of control?

They are considered to be man’s best friend – but has the UK’s obsession with having a ‘fur baby’ spiralled out of control?

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the attraction. A dog is a constant companion that is always ready to spend time with you, watches what you want to on the TV and stares adoringly at you when you scratch their head. I have friends that prefer their dog to their own children – which isn’t surprising when teenagers often don’t even notice you’re in the room, whereas a dog acts like all their Christmases have come at once when they catch sight of their owner.

I haven’t got a dog, mainly because they need time and money spent on them. After the increase in energy and petrol prices, I’m thankful I didn’t buy a puppy in lockdown, like the nearly 3.2 million households in the UK that did. The cost of buying a puppy has been staggering.

We gaped open-mouthed when friends told us they had spent £3k on a puppy – after a while we just accepted that it was the norm. Breeders were rolling in money as they hiked up their prices to make the most of the increase in demand. Friends who had never had an interest in dogs suddenly decided they wanted to become breeders, bought male and female puppies and Bob’s your uncle. They just sat back and let the cash roll in.

The problem is that, wherever you go now, you have to deal with the problems created by irresponsible owners. There is dog dirt that is left behind, often in the middle of a path ready for you to step in. The filled bags that hang from trees as well as overflowing dog bins. How many times have we all heard someone shout “Don’t worry – he won’t hurt you” as their dog jumps up at you, leaving dirty paw marks on your clothes. I know a couple of people that are terrified of dogs and what makes it worse is hearing about the surge in fatal dog attacks that have possibly been caused by all these impulse buys during lockdown.

The Canine and Feline Behaviour Association reported a 54 per cent increase in dog attacks from 2020 to 2021. Last week we heard how a two-year-old in Worcestershire was killed following a dog attack involving a Rottweiler. So not all pooches are harmless, furry balls of fun – some of them are brutal killers.

It has got to the point where we expect worse behaviour from our dogs than we do our children. Can you imagine how embarrassed you would be if your child started climbing up a random person in the street, licked their leg or went to the toilet on their front lawn?

Everyone around you would think they had gone barking mad!

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