Eating bad things tops the list of canine mischief – Forbes Canada Advisor

Willis steals cookies from children in strollers. Khole and Kaori were arrested while munching on marijuana grabbed from their mother’s purse. Lily eats shirts and shoelaces. Bruenor ate half of a rubber boot.

These canine adventures were shared on social media by their owners – a practice known as ‘dog shaming’. Dog parents make fun of their dogs by posting pictures on social media of them wearing signs explaining their misdeeds. While it can be fun to see what mischief mutts get up to, unruly canine behavior can come at a high price if it results in a trip to the vet.

A new US Forbes Advisor survey of 2,000 American dog owners sniffed out the most common canine manipulations and some of the consequences of the “shameful” behavior.

No one is perfect, not even a good fight

The majority (56%) of dog owners report that their dogs are naughty, with 12% saying their dog usually misbehaves and 5% say their dog always behaves badly. Only 8% of dog owners say their dogs have angelic behavior.

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 said that their dog’s misbehavior does not interfere with the household. Here’s how dog owners described their dog’s mischievous behavior:

  • A little disruptive—32%
  • Somewhat disruptive—16%
  • Very destructive—4%
  • Extremely Destructive—2%

Naughty by nature or nurture: Taking responsibility for bad dogs

As the phenomenon of dog-shaming shows, there is no shortage of deplorable acts by dogs. And there’s a lot of blame: 85% of dog parents say they feel responsible for their dog’s disobedience.

Despite loving dogs like family, it can sometimes be a challenge to provide the perfect amount of companionship and exercise that a dog needs, which can contribute to mischievous behavior. However, only 9% feel extremely responsible and only 20% feel very responsible.

How much responsibility do you feel for your dog’s mischief?

Eating foreign objects leads the group of causes of injuries

Fortunately, only 18% of dog owners report that bad behavior has resulted in injury or illness to their pet. But some dogs aren’t so lucky. Eating things they shouldn’t (60%) is the main cause of dog injury or illness, followed by jumping off something high (21%).

What did your dog do that caused the injury or illness? (check all that apply)

Bow-Wow Chow: Toys and clothes are top disapproved ‘treats’

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

What Has Your Dog Ingested That He Shouldn’t? (check all that apply)

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

But there are many others who share their dogs’ culinary mistakes and mishaps. Dog shaming is most popular among Millennials ages 26 to 42 – 20% say they are likely to be shamed.

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

Sometimes dogs need medical attention after being naughty. Consider, for example, Lily, who ate laundry and needed nearly $1,350 (US$1,000) in care, according to her parent’s post. This is consistent with our survey results: The average cost of care for an injury or illness resulting from misconduct is $1,500 ($1,130 USD). But 10% say they spent at least $4,000 ($3,000 USD).

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

Check out this Instagram post

Pet insurance for your dog

You can reduce out-of-pocket costs for unexpected vet bills by purchasing pet insurance for your dog. And to help offset the cost of annual medical exams 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 different 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. A separate US Forbes Advisor survey of American dog owners found that 89% of dog owners overestimate the cost of pet insurance. More than three-quarters (76%) overestimate the cost of pet insurance by three times the average price.

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

Oh hold on! Help your dog help himself

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

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 behavioral training. For dog owners who have tried professional behavioral training, our research found:

  • 52% said their dog’s behavior improved in the long term.
  • 27% said their dog’s behavior improved, but only temporarily.
  • 21% said professional training did not improve their dog’s behavior.

If you’re looking to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for accidental illnesses and injuries, 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-based companies offering coverage in Canada) include behavioral therapy in their coverage, such as:

  • FetchPet
  • Trupanion
  • Pets plus us
  • Petsecure

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


This online survey of 2,000 American adults who own dogs was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Society for Market Research’s code of conduct. Data collected on June 21, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of MRS and has corporate membership in the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact [email protected]

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