Eating the wrong things tops the list of dog naughtiness – Forbes Advisor Canada


Willis steals cookies from kids in strollers. Khole and Kaori got arrested munching on marijuana edibles snatched from their mother’s purse. Lily ate shirts and shoelaces. Bruenor ate half a rubber boot.

These canine escapades were shared on social media by their owners, a practice known as “dog shaming”. Dog parents are making fun of their dogs by posting pictures on social media of them carrying signs explaining their misdeeds. While it can be fun to see what mischief pooches get into, naughty dog ​​behavior can come at a steep price if it results in a trip to the vet.

A new US Forbes Advisor survey of 2,000 US dog owners has detected the most common canine shenanigans and some of the consequences of ‘shameful’ behavior.

Nobody’s perfect, not even a good guy

The majority (56%) of dog owners say their pooches are mean, with 12% saying their dog usually misbehaves and 5% say their dog still misbehaves. Only 8% of dog owners claim angelic behavior from their dogs.

How often is your dog naughty?

Dogs are part of the family, so it’s no surprise that when they misbehave, it can have ripple effects. Fortunately, 44% of respondents say their dog’s bad behavior doesn’t disrupt the household. Here’s how dog owners described their dog’s mean behavior:

  • Somewhat disruptive—32%
  • Somewhat disruptive — 16%
  • Very disruptive—4%
  • Extremely disruptive—2%

Wicked by nature or by training: taking responsibility for bad dogs

As the phenomenon of dog-shaming shows, regrettable dog acts abound. And there’s plenty to blame: 85% of dog parents say they feel responsible for their dog’s naughtiness.

Although they love dogs like family, it can sometimes be difficult to provide the ideal amount of companionship and exercise a dog needs, which can contribute to naughty behavior. Yet only 9% felt extremely responsible and only 20% felt very responsible.

How responsible do you feel for your dog’s naughtiness?

Eating foreign objects leads the pack in injury causes

Fortunately, only 18% of dog owners say their mean behavior resulted in their pet being injured or sick. But some dogs are not so lucky. Eating things they shouldn’t (60%) is the leading cause of injury or illness in dogs, followed by jumping from a height (21%).

What did your dog do that caused the injury or illness? (Check all boxes)

Bow-Wow Chow: toys and clothing are the main unapproved “treats”

Many dogs have a knack for eating inappropriate and potentially harmful foods. Toys (32%) top the list of items dogs try to snack on, followed by clothing (16%).

What did your dog ingest that he shouldn’t? (Check all boxes)

Dogs eating other than their own food is a popular topic among dog-shamers who post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. While only 14% of dog owners surveyed said they are likely to participate in #dogshaming posts, millions of people enjoy the results of those who do.

But there are many others who share their dog’s culinary mistakes and mishaps. Dog shaming is most popular among Millennials aged 26-42: 20% say they are likely to dog-shame.

The average vet bill for malice-related injuries and illnesses exceeds $1,000

Sometimes dogs need medical attention after being mischievous. Consider, for example, Lily, who ate laundry and needed nearly $1,350 (US$1,000) in care, according to her parents’ message. This matches our survey results: the average cost of care for an injury or illness resulting from misbehavior is $1,500 (US$1,130). But 10% say they spent at least $4,000 (US$3,000).

What was the total cost (USD) of your dog’s veterinary care for the most recent injury or illness due to misbehaviour?

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Boost pet insurance for your dog

You can reduce out-of-pocket vet bills by purchasing pet insurance for your pooch. And to help offset the expense of annual medical checkups and other preventative care for your dog, you can also typically add a routine wellness plan to a pet insurance policy.

With most pet insurance plans, you can choose from various maximum annual coverage amounts, such as $5,000 per year. Some even offer unlimited coverage.

If you think pet insurance is too expensive, you’re not alone. Another US Forbes Advisor survey of US dog owners found that 89% of dog owners overestimate the cost of pet insurance. More than three-quarters (76%) overestimated the cost of pet insurance by three times the average price.

An analysis by Forbes Advisor in the United States found that pet insurance for a dog costs an average of $47 (US$35) per month.

Oh, hold on tight! Helping Your Dog Help Himself

Some pet parents turn to medication or behavioral training to help their dogs deal with their issues.

While only 6% of dog owners say their pet regularly takes medication to control their behavior, 28% of dog owners we surveyed have tried professional behavior training. For dog owners who have tried professional behavior training, our survey found:

  • 52% say their dog’s behavior has improved over the long term.
  • 27% say their dog’s behavior has improved, but only temporarily.
  • 21% say professional training has not improved their dog’s behavior.

If you want to reduce out-of-pocket expenses related to illness and accidental injury, pet insurance is worth considering, and if your dog has behavioral issues, it may be a smart choice. Some Canadian pet insurance companies (or US companies offering coverage in Canada) include behavioral therapy in their coverage, such as:

  • RetrieveAnimal
  • Trupanion
  • Fart Plus Us
  • PetSecure

Be sure to check whether the policy covers professional training or only treatment by a licensed veterinarian.


This online survey of 2,000 US adult dog owners was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research firm OnePoll in accordance with the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct. Data was collected June 21, 2022. Margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, a member of the MRS and a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For full survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact [email protected].

Exchange rate USD to CAD @ 1.33402 (by accessed 31 January 2023.


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