Happy 4th of July everyone!

Today I was researching the canine and human relationship and I came across this really insightful article study by Jennifer Kwan and Melissa Bain.  They conducted a survey at Sacramento animal shelters that was filled out by 129 people; 80 relinquishing owners, and 49 continuing owners.  The questionnaire asked about demographic information, attachment to the pet, behavioral problems, and, in the case of relinquished dogs, the reasons why.

The most interesting finding of this study is the frequency of behavioral problems as a reason for relinquishment.  I would have guessed this without seeing the findings from the study, but I think it is important to not make assumptions when it comes to such a topic.  The findings also underline the need to help owners find better ways of preventing problems in the first place and managing them if they arise.  As owners and breeders of Rottweilers, I think it is important to understand research in these areas and apply it to our everyday lives by educating yourself, your family and friends, and especially your puppy buyers!

Here’s a summary of their findings:

  • Relinquished dogs and ‘continuing’ dogs were equally likely to have attended training classes and were equally likely to have used punishment-based techniques in training their dogs.
  • The relinquished dogs were significantly more likely to live as outside dogs all of the time, and were significantly older; amongst the male dogs, they were significantly more likely to be intact.
  • There was a correlation between the use of prong and choke collars and problems in loose-leash walking. However, it is not possible to know if these were only employed because of difficulties training loose-leash walking, or if they contributed to the problems, for example by misuse or by owners assuming they didn’t need to train if using them.
  • Dogs in the relinquished group were significantly more likely to have problem behaviors than those that were being kept.
  • Sixty-five per cent of relinquishing owners said that a behavioral problem was a contributing factor, and about half said it was a relatively strong influence.
  • Aggression was the most common behavioral problem given as a strong reason for relinquishment.
  • Attachment to pets is a construct that includes knowledge about the pet’s needs, feelings of closeness to the pet, and time spent with them. Attachment scores were significantly lower for relinquishing owners compared to continuing owners. Although not surprising, this is the first time it has been shown using a standard measure of attachment.
  • About a third of owners said they were ‘very satisfied’ with their dog’s behavior. Those who were not so satisfied also had significantly lower scores for attachment, suggesting a link between behavior and attachment to dogs.
  • Although moving to a new house was a common reason for animal relinquishment, many people had other pets that weren’t being relinquished. (I don’t know if the study delved into rentals and people moving into areas with breed restrictions which may contribute to the reason for relinquishing a pet.)

Reference

Kwan, J., & Bain, M. (2013). Owner Attachment and Problem Behaviors Related to Relinquishment and Training Techniques of Dogs Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 16 (2), 168-183 DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2013.768923

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