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'Pudsey effect' improves dog skills

Britain's dogs are becoming more talented thanks to the "Pudsey effect", according to a survey by the Kennel Club.

Almost one-third of dog owners (32%) said the success of the Britain's Got Talent canine winner had encouraged them to develop their own pet's abilities.

And more than half (54%) said they spent up to five hours a week training their dog skills such as tackling obstacles, dancing to music or even riding a surfboard or skateboard.

The survey, conducted with 1,084 people by YourSayPays, was commissioned by the Kennel Club to launch its annual Crufts Factor competition.

The most popular skills taught to pets were basic obedience (81%), fetching items such as newspapers and slippers around the house (34%) and agility (15%).

And after Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey's triumph on the ITV1 talent show, a third of owners admitted to wanting their dog to pursue a showbiz career if it was talented enough.

Dog owners who wish to enter the competition can upload a short video of their pet's special talents via the Crufts Facebook page, www.facebook.com/crufts.

Members of the public can then vote on their favourite entry and the two entrants with the most votes will perform against other dogs in the Crufts Factor final.

One wildcard finalist will also be picked from all entries.

Winning entrants will see their dogs perform in front of a live audience at Crufts 2013 on Sunday March 10.

It will be judged by Mark Foster, Olympic swimmer and Strictly Come Dancing contestant, and Lucy Heath, winner of ITV show That Dog's Got Talent.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: "The Crufts Factor is all about celebrating the extraordinary talents of ordinary dogs, and what better place to do that than on the world's most famous dog stage.

"It is great to see the so-called 'Pudsey effect' motivating people to teach their dogs tricks and take part in dog sports and leisure activities. It is a perfect way for dog and owner to bond and have fun in the process."

Foster said: "It always amazes me how close the relationship between humans and dogs is and how skilful dogs can be."

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