MORE than half of dog owners in the South West have to replace at least one pair of shoes a month due to their pet’s behavioural problems.

Research carried out by Dogs Trust has revealed dogs with problem behaviours cost the average dog owner in the region £232 a year.

The charity has launched a Dog School after receiving nearly 9,000 calls from across the UK from owners looking to rehome their dogs due to behavioural problems.

At the school, owners learn how to teach their dog new skills using positive reward-based training, and find out lots about dog behaviour to help them develop a trusting relationship.

The new research revealed the common excuse ‘the dog ate my homework’ is not just a defence for the classroom – though for 40 per cent of Brits it is - as four in ten dog owners have had to explain themselves after their dog damaged their homework, including dissertations and important work documents.

Dogs Trust Dog School aims to equip dogs with the skills to make the right decisions, even in the most tempting of scenarios. Graduates were given the chance to show off their good behaviour when they were put through a series of temptation trials – including sitting happily by their owner while resisting the temptation of a juicy steak, and refraining from barking at the postman – tasks untrained dogs may find difficult.

Commenting on the nation’s need for better trained dogs, Dogs Trust Hampshire’s head coach, Iain Sneddon, said: “Behaviour problems are a massive welfare issue for dogs - they are the most common reason for dogs to be relinquished to Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres.

“We had 327 calls in 2016 from dog owners looking to hand their dogs to Dogs Trust Salisbury alone. 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 dogs.”

He added: “Dog School is different from traditional training classes as it teaches your dog to fit happily into your family life. Although this includes training 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 his behaviour, and know how to react if things don’t go according to plan.”

Despite dog owners from the South West paying out an average of £2,787.84 throughout a dog’s lifetime as a result of their dog’s behaviour, 85 per cent have never had professional advice on training their dog.

And over half of owners say their dogs cannot be trusted to always come back when called.