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The UK’s cheekiest pups

Our pooches bring us endless joy, whether it’s greeting us with a big hug when we come home from a long day, curling up next to us as we fall asleep, or running around with boundless amounts of energy when playing fetch.

No matter how adorable they are, sometimes our dogs can get up to no good, which can result in owners turning down social plans, booking a trip to the vet, or checking their furry friends into a behavioural class.

We ran a survey of dog owners to find out where the cheekiest pups are found, what the most common unwanted behaviours are, and how much they could end up costing you.

Almost 65% of pooches display undesirable behaviour 2-3 times a week

According to our survey, almost 65% of dogs play up at least two or three times a week, however, 11% of respondents said it was a daily occurrence. Only 7% of owners said that their dog displays non-ideal behaviours once a month or less – lucky them.

As for where these cheeky pups can be found, Sheffield has the most pooches playing up more than once a day at 22%. Followed by Norwich at 17% and Nottingham, Bristol, and Belfast at 16%.

German Shorthaired Pointers are the cheekiest breed with 30% of owners from the survey saying they play up more than once a day. This is followed by Labradors at 18%, Cockapoos and Shih Tzus at 17%, and Cocker Spaniels at 13%.

Whilst some of these unfavourable behaviours are minor, some owners have had to take action. For instance, almost one in five struggle to go away, as they cannot find someone to look after their dog, and one in 10 have had to turn down social plans. Furthermore, 27% have changed their dog’s diet in an attempt to manage their behaviour.

The most common unwanted behaviours of dogs revealed

The most common mischief from our pooches is begging for food at the dinner table, with 33% of survey respondents saying their pups are guilty of trying to steal scraps, followed by pulling on a lead and digging up the garden.

Other common behaviours are barking at or chasing postal workers, with almost 25% of respondents saying their pup is guilty of that, followed by jumping up at people in excitement, chewing on furnishings and personal items and going to the toilet inside.

Although it does seem that some of us may be willing to let these behaviours slide. Almost 22% said they don’t mind their dog begging for food at the table, closely followed by going to the toilet inside, at just over 21% - after all, it’s usually just an accident.

We’re also likely to let our pooches get away with digging up the garden, pulling on a lead, and 13% of us would even let them off for chewing our furniture.

As a whole 20% of respondents said they never tell their dogs off, whereas 29% say they always do if they’re exhibiting any unwanted behaviour.

Looking at the results by gender, we can see that some of us take these misbehaviours more seriously than others. For example, men are much more likely to let their dogs get away with chewing the furniture than women (17%, compared to 11%). However, women are generally more lenient with their dogs, with almost a quarter saying they’d never tell their dog off, compared to just 14% of men.

If we then break this down by age, those aged 25-34 are most likely to let their dogs get away with bad behaviour, with 33% saying they never tell their dogs off, whereas just 1.8% of those aged 65+ said that. In fact, nearly half (48%) of those aged 65 and over said they would always tell their dog off if they’re misbehaving, compared to just 20% of 25–34-year-olds.

Top tips to redirect your pup’s unwanted behaviour

If your dog will not stop chewing the sofa or chasing the postal worker, you might be wondering how to fix their behaviour. We worked with a dog behavioural expert, Sue Ketland from Woodgreen Pets Charity, to draw together some top tips:

It's important to remember that dogs have little understanding of what is right and wrong when it comes to human values as they think, and act based on their instincts. Hence, why it is crucial to understand the motivations behind a dog's behaviour to effectively address it.

All behaviour is a symptom of an emotional state. In other words, dogs behave in accordance with how they feel - Stress, fear, frustration, and excitability all impact on how a dog will behave. 

It is also important to remember that when trying certain training techniques, dogs may struggle to follow instructions in a highly distracting environment so try to create a calm and familiar setting.

  1. How to stop begging for food at the dinner table: Never feed your dog from the dinner table and keep them busy while you eat with a long-lasting chew toy instead. This rule should be consistently followed and monitored, particularly around friends, family members, and children. You could also designate a specific area for your dog using a baby gate or pen.
  2. How to stop pulling on a lead: When walking your dog, be sure to reward your dog with high value food rewards when the lead is loose and consider investing in a no pull harness.
  3. How to stop digging up the garden: Boredom is often the root cause of digging behaviour in dogs, so it's important to provide them with adequate physical and mental stimulation such as long walks or games that encourage them to use their brain like snuffle mats. You can also offer a designated digging area, such as a ball pit, where you can hide treats for your dog to find.

The true price of a cheeky pup

These behaviours can result in costly trips to the vet for owners, in fact shockingly 43% say they’ve visited the vet 3-4 times due to their animal’s mishaps and these visits don’t come cheap at an average of £253.60 per time.

That’s not all; Many Brits have had to replace big items of furniture due to their cheeky pups with 32% of owners needing to replace their kitchen table, 31% replacing their chairs and beds, and 25% switching up their sofa – with the average cost of each item racking up to £432.10.

For one in 10 dogs their actions have resulted in them going to behavioural classes, which can also ramp up the spending with each session costing around £42.70.

Regardless of how cheeky our pets are, we always want to make sure they have the best, which is why it’s so important you take out pet insurance to cover them and you in case of any unplanned vet visits.

In fact, you can compare specific dog insurance, to make sure you find the right plan for you and your pooch. Alternatively, for more information take a look at our range of pet insurance guides, designed to answer all the questions you may have.


Survey of 1,500 dog owners who say their dog has misbehaved at least once. Conducted by The Leadership Factor.