Behaviour problems are amongst the most common reasons given for relinquishing dogs to rehoming centres. Some behaviour problems may be amenable to being tackled pre-emptively with classes educating owners on basic dog training and understanding behaviour; however, it is recognised that people with low socio-economic status (SES) may face barriers to attending classes such as affordability, variable working hours, and limited access to transport and childcare. The current study piloted free-to-use dog training and owner education classes in areas with high levels of economic deprivation, both in the traditional face-to-face format and online. It was hypothesised that providing an online dog training course may help people overcome practical barriers by allowing them to complete training modules in their own time. High dropout rates were observed in both formats (online: 100%, face-to-face: 43% dropout). A course of paid dog training classes running in the same area saw a comparatively low dropout rate (24%). Participants who completed the face-to-face classes had significantly higher household incomes and were less likely to receive means-tested benefits than participants who dropped out (household income p = 0.049; benefits status p = 0.017). This evidence suggests that people with low SES may face non-course fee-related barriers to attending dog training classes. Future research should include a qualitative investigation of people’s reasons for not continuing with dog training courses. Study findings can support the development of training and behaviour advice delivery that is accessible to people with varied socio-economic backgrounds.
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