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Behaviourist team at the RSPCA receive welcome funding boost to help more than 100 lockdown dogs

  • Purina has pledged its support by contributing £50,000 to help rescue dogs like Bella start their new lives
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The RSPCA’s team of behaviourists has received a generous donation from petcare company Purina which will help provide 101 dogs with behavioural support.

The donation will help the behaviourist team at the RSPCA provide extra support for those dogs who need it the most.

Even before the pandemic, behaviour problems were the number one reason dogs come into RSPCA care, often due to experiences they have had with previous owners, which need to be overcome before they can look to find their new forever homes.

Dogs like Bella, a lurcher and beagle cross, who came into the charity’s care having had four homes before she was seven months old, leaving her unsure and fearful

Purina’s support for the RSPCA’s behaviourist team comes at a time when the charity fears training and socialisation may be needed now more than ever with the surge in demand for pets meaning around 3.2 million households have added a new pet to their family during lockdown*.

Many people have understandably sought comfort and company with pets during these unprecedented times but the charity is concerned that many young dogs will have missed out on critical socialisation experiences and training which may cause behavioural issues in the future. The RSPCA also fears that dogs will have become used to having their owners at home and many may struggle to adapt once life begins to return to something more like normal.

This means the charity is bracing for a rise in people needing to give up their pets or abandoned animals coming into its care.

Sarah Tapsell, one of the RSPCA’s regional clinical animal behaviourists, said: “We are worried that we will see a rise in abandoned and unwanted dogs once the restrictions start to ease and people return to offices later this year.

“Our lives have been very different over the pandemic which means that we’ve been able to spend more time with our pets than ever before but the concern is that once life goes back to normal, our dogs and especially younger dogs who have been bought during the pandemic, will struggle to adjust. Research suggests that eight in 10 dogs find being left home alone difficult, and some may exhibit behaviours associated with stress and anxiety, such as barking, toileting in the house, or being destructive.

“Sadly, this is when we see owners struggling to cope with their pets as they do not know how to support their dogs and may not be able to adjust their lifestyle to now match their dogs’ needs. This means we may have more dogs coming into our rescue centres who need behavioural support.”

Purina, which has more than 125 years’ experience as a pet care business, has generously donated to the RSPCA to help those dogs who need a little bit or a lot of extra support.

Calum Macrae, Regional Managing Director for Purina UK&I, commented: “Inspired by our core belief that people and pets are better together, and seeing the difference that the RSPCA can make to dogs who need some extra support, I am really thrilled that Purina can support the RSPCA to help 101 dogs find new homes. COVID-19 has brought us all many challenges over the past year but what has become clear is that the pet human bond has never been stronger, with more and more people choosing to own a pet. Unfortunately, the flip side to this is many new owners haven’t been able to access training support before an issue has become a problem. This is where the RSPCA’s behaviour team is on hand to step in to help many of the dogs coming into their care.”

Purina is always looking for ways to help make the pet-human bond stronger. By supporting the RSPCA to help rescue dogs start their new lives; Purina is helping to create new loving bonds between rescue dogs and their new owners.


Bella was impacted from being passed from owner to owner as a puppy


Bella, the beagle and lurcher cross, came into the care of RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham, Surrey, in February 2020 after she had been in four different homes by the time she was just seven months old. Being passed from one owner to another in such a short space of time and at such a critical point in her development as a puppy, has left her with some emotional scars.

However, the behaviourist team at RSPCA Millbrook have been working hard to improve Bella’s socialisation and confidence and now hope she will find the loving forever home she deserves.


Lockdown made it difficult for owners to socialise new puppies like Molly


Molly puppy

Ten-week-old pup Molly ended up in RSPCA care just eight days after going home with her new owners. The little poodle cross fox terrier was purchased over Christmas but was relinquished to the charity’s Martlesham Animal Centre - run by RSPCA Suffolk East & Ipswich Branch - just over a week later. Thankfully, the RSPCA had space to take Molly in and they’ve already found her a wonderful new home.

As the RSPCA braces for a surge in unsocialised puppies, Molly highlights the challenges the charity faces in this time and the great lengths staff and volunteers go to ensure puppies like Molly are socialised and ready for their new home.

As well as the donation helping to fund the behaviourist team and help dogs in the charity’s care get ready to be rehomed, it will also help the RSPCA raise awareness about the importance of understanding and improving their dog's behaviour. It will also help to educate the public about how owners’ behaviour, such as changes to routine and leaving their dog home alone, can impact their dogs’ mental wellbeing.

Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the RSPCA’s companion animals department, added: “Sadly we know that many dogs find being left alone difficult and we fear that the pandemic may have worsened this so that’s why we’re urging owners to be DogKind, to understand their pet’s needs and to prepare now.

“If not, we fear the biggest dog welfare crisis of our generation. Visits to our dog behaviour and behaviourist pages online are already rising and we know that one of the main reasons owners relinquish their dogs to rescue centres or abandon them is due to behavioural problems and we believe that separation related behaviour is one of the biggest behavioural issues in today’s dogs.”

RSPCA and Purina hope that together they can help turn the fortunes of more dog’s lives around.

For help preparing your pets for life after lockdown please visit and if your pooch is already displaying any signs of separation related behaviour speak to a clinical animal behaviourist for advice.

For more information about Purina visit:

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.


Notes to editors:

Further information on the RSPCA’s behaviourist team

Each of the RSPCA’s national centres has its own Behaviour and Welfare Advisor and a team of accredited Clinical Animal Behaviourists who support the centre behaviourists. They work with their teams to ensure the dogs in their care have the correct management and training plans to make their stay as stress-free as possible. They also work to ensure they are correctly assessed and leave the centres with more training and skills than when they arrived, setting them up for happy and healthy lives with their new owners.

Due to the nature of the RSPCA’s work, many of the dogs which are rescued are often poorly socialised, abused and struggle with life, so the behaviourists support these dogs with in depth behaviour plans, time and dedication, and can also provide fosterers and adopters with advice.