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What’s the problem? Owner perceptions of problem behaviours in dogs aged 6, 12, and 18 months

Authors:
  • Dogs Trust

Abstract

This study has identified the four most reported owner-perceived problem behaviours in dogs aged 6, 12 and 18 months. These findings can help inform where specific training strategies and interventions are needed to target these problems and prevent their development which could impact on dog welfare and the human-animal bond. Future work will explore risk factors for owner-perceived problem behaviours and assess the efficacy of where owners sought help for these behaviours.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
Barking Pulling on the
lead Jumping up at
people Recall issues
Number of dogs
Behaviour
6-months-old 12-months-old 18-months-old
* *
* * **
This study has identified the four most reported owner-perceived
problem behaviours in dogs aged 6, 12 and 18 months. These findings
can help inform where specific training strategies and interventions are
needed to target these problems and prevent their development which
could impact on dog welfare and the human-animal bond.
Future work will explore risk factors for owner-perceived problem
behaviours and assess the efficacy of where owners sought help for
these behaviours.
6-months-old 12-months-old 18-months-old
Figure 2: The four most common owner-reported problem behaviours
and the proportion of dogs aged 6, 12, and 18 months that displayed the
behaviour.
Rachel Kinsman1, R. Casey1, B. Cooper1, K. Giragosian1, N. Harvey1, S. Owczarczak-Garstecka1, L. Samet2, S Tasker3,4, J. Murray1.
1Dogs Trust, London, UK. 2Chester Zoo, Chester, UK. 3Bristol Veterinary School, Bristol, UK. 4Linnaeus Veterinary Limited, Shirley, UK.
The four most common owner-reported problem behaviours in dogs aged 6, 12 and 18 months were barking, pulling
on the lead, jumping up at people and recall issues. The prevalence of each behaviour was highest in dogs aged 12 months.
There were significant differences between the three timepoints in the proportion of dogs that barked, pulled on the lead and
had recall issues, but no significant difference in the proportion of dogs that jumped up at people.
7.7% (168/2,177)
13.1% (227/1,735)
10.9% (135/1,237)
Barking
3.7% (81/2,177)
4.8% (83/1,735)
4.2% (52/1,237)
Jumping up at people
Pulling on the lead
3.8% (83/2,177)
6.2% (107/1,735)
3.9% (48/1,237)
3.4% (73/2,177)
5.7% (99/1,735)
4.4% (54/1,237)
Recall issues
Software: R Core Team (2020). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
References:
1Voith, V., 1985. Attachment of people to companion animals.
The Veterinary Clinics of North America. Small Animal Practice
, 15(2), pp.289-295.
2O'farrell, V., 1992.
Manual of canine behaviour
. British Small Animal Veterinary Association.
3Lund, J., Agger, J., and Vestergaard, K., 1996. Reported behaviour problems in pet dogs in Denmark: age distribution and influence of breed and gender.
Preventive Veterinary Medicine,
28(1), pp.33-48.
4Martínez, Á., Pernas, G., Casalta, F., et al., 2011. Risk factors associated with behavioral problems in dogs.
Journal of Veterinary Behavior,
6,(4), pp.225-231.
5Patronek, G., Glickman, L., Beck, A., et al., 1996. Risk factors for relinquishment of dogs to an animal shelter.
Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association
, 209(3), pp.572-581.
6Salman, M., Hutchison, J., Ruch-Gallie, R., et al., 2000. Behavioral reasons for relinquishment of dogs and cats to 12 shelters.
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
3(2), pp.93-106.
7Weiss, E., Slater, M., Garrison, L., et al., 2014. Large dog relinquishment to two municipal facilities in New York City and Washington, DC: Identifying targets for intervention.
Animals,
4(3), pp.409-433.
8Buller, K., Ballantyne, K., 2020. Living with and loving a pet with behavioral problems: Pet owners experiences.
Journal of Veterinary Behavior,
37, pp.41-47.
rachel.kinsman@dogstrust.org.uk
www.dogstrust.org.uk/research
@DTScholars
Figure 3: The differences in the proportion of dogs showing the
behaviours across the three timepoints for a subpopulation of 895 dogs.
*Dotted lines show significant differences between timepoints, p<0.05.
Owner-perceived problematic behaviours are common in the domestic
dog population1-4. The behaviours can impact on the human-animal bond
and the wellbeing of the dog and the owner, as well as being risk factors
for relinquishment or euthanasia5-8. To explore the proportion and type
of owner-perceived problem behaviours in dogs under 18 months, data
provided by dog owners participating in a longitudinal study were used.
Prospective data were collected from self-administered surveys issued
to each participant when their dog was aged 6, 12, and 18 months. A
free-text box enabled owners to report any dog behaviours that they
found to be a problem. At each timepoint, the four most common
owner-reported problem behaviours were categorised and summarised
using all available data.
For a subpopulation of dogs (for which data were available at all three
timepoints), differences in the occurrence of these behaviours across
the timepoints were assessed using binomial mixed-effects models,
with individual identity as a random intercept. Post-hoc analysis used
Tukey's Honestly Significant Difference test for multiple comparisons.
Data from the 6, 12, and 18 months surveys were available for 2,177, 1,735
and 1,237 dogs, respectively. Figure 1 shows the proportion of dogs
reported to exhibit one or more problematic behaviours at each
timepoint. Overall, at all three timepoints, the four most common
behaviours were barking, pulling on the lead, jumping up at people and
recall issues (Figure 2). Barking was the most common behaviour across
all three timepoints. Figure 3 shows the differences in the proportion of
dogs showing the four behaviours across the three timepoints.
Figure 1: Proportion of dogs that exhibited problematic behaviours at 6,
12, and 18 months of age as reported by owners.
30.3%
(n=659)
41.0%
(n=711)32.7%
(n=404)
69.7%
(n=1,518) 59.0%
(n=1,024)
67.3%
(n=833)
0
500
1000
1500
2000
6-months-old
(n=2,177) 12-months-old
(n=1,735) 18-months-old
(n=1,237)
Number of dogs
Age of dog
No problem
behaviour
reported
At least one
problem
behaviour
reported
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