Why Do Even Committed Dog Owners Fail to Comply with Some Responsible Ownership Practices?

This reading is a research paper on the relationship between demographic, attitudinal, dog-owner relationship variables and various dog management behaviors in Australia. Although most Australian dog owners comply with responsible dog ownership practices, there are still responsible owners who sometimes fail to act responsibly.

The aim of the research study is to use the results of an online survey comprising 1016 dog owners to investigate the relationships between demographic, attitudinal, dog owner relationship variables, and responsible dog ownership behaviors  These behaviors included confinement, registration, microchipping, desexing, participation in formal obedience training and regular socialization practices.

Nearly 40% of Australian households own at least one pet dog (Headey 2006). However, high incidence of dog ownership poses disadvantages to the community. Roaming dogs can cause road accidents and barking dogs become the focus of neighborhood disputes (Kayrooz et al. 2003.) These issues are often due to mismanagement on the dog owner’s behalf; which also lead to lost and abandoned dogs ending up in shelters.

Behaviors performed by owners can help to prevent these problems from occurring. Appropriate pre-acquisition behaviors involving a period of information gathering, may prevent future relinquishment of dogs due to unrealistic expectations (Patronek et al. 1996; Fournier and Geller 2004).

 

Predicting Dog Management Behaviors

Confinement:

Nearly all participants reported confining their dog to their property except when taken on outings.

Most agreed that

  • Confinement keeps dogs safe (99%),
  •  Is a practice that friends and family would agree with (95.4%)
  • Prevents them from being a nuisance (92.9%).

However, the research also point out that demographic, attitude, and dog-owner relationship variable significantly predicted confinement behaviour.

Registration:

Only 10% of reported that their dogs are not registered with a local council.

Most owners agreed that

  • Registration makes it easier to find owners if dogs become lost (92%).
  • Is important (76.9%)
  • Friends and family would approve of the practice (81.9%)

The presence of other dogs was associated with a decreased likelihood of registration, with beliefs that it is difficult and expensive.

Microchipping:

Most owners reported that their dog was microchipped (86.5%).

Most agreed that

  • Microchipping makes it easier to find owners if the dog becomes lost (97.6%),
  • Is important (88.6%)
  • Is a practice that family and friends agree upon (86%).

However, dog age was associated with a decreased likelihood of microchipping. On the other hand, perceived costs and dog-owner interaction were associated with an increased likelihood of microchipping.

Desexing:

Most dog owners reported that their dog was desexed (80.4%). However, some agreed that desexing is difficult and unnecessary (6.1%).  Older dogs were more likely to be desexed than younger dogs. The beliefs are that desexing is good for behavior and should be required by law.

Obedience Training:

Most agreed that training promotes the relationship between an owner and their dog (96%). However, the research shows that higher income levels are associated with a decreased likelihood of training. The greater the levels of thought before acquisition, the more likely the dogs are taken for training.

Socialization:

Dog age was the only demographic variable as younger dogs are more likely to socialize than older dogs. In addition, the more the owners interact with their dogs, the more likely they socialized their dogs.

Conclusion

It is with uncertainty that generally irresponsible owners are motivated by the same factors as generally responsible owners. The most frequent independent factor of management practices was the belief that performing a specific behavior would be endorsed by friends and family. Such influence of normative pressure on compliance with management practices is important as predictors of socially responsible behaviors (as mentioned in Carol’s reading). Perceived difficulty was also a significant predictor as the belief that the management practice was difficult was inversely related to registration, microchipping and socialization. Owners, who already act responsibly most of the time, are more receptive towards intervention programs designed for additional responsible behaviors; by making them less difficult to perform.

Do you agree that the behaviors mentioned are indicators of a responsible dog owner? Or are there other behaviors or qualities?

Do you feel that the absence of normative pressure plays an important role towards irresponsible dog owners?

Reference:

Rohlf,V.I., Bennett, P.C., Toukhsati, S. & Coleman, G. (2010) Why do even committed dog owners fail to comply with some responsible ownership practices? Anthorozoos, 23, 143-155.

– yyeweii

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4 comments so far

  1. travelrene on

    Responsible dog ownership means more than adoring your dog (Stregowski, 2012). It is a serious commitment that consists of various important duties. Therefore, before one decides to own a dog, he or she should be prepared to keep to the responsibilities.

    I agree that the behaviors mentioned in the blog post are the indicators of a responsible dog owner. It is important for the dog owners to confine their dogs to their properties, register the dogs with local council, as well as microchip, desex, give obedience training, and socialize their dogs.

    Nevertheless, a responsible dog owner should also be responsible of the dog’s health condition. If the dog is sick, it is the owner’s job to get it to a veterinarian to seek for treatment. Besides, the dog owner should also take care of the dog’s living condition. For example, in the circumstance that the dog owner’s change his home environment, for example change from spacious terrace house to a condominium unit with limited space, he need to consider the impact to the dog, in this case, the dog has lesser space to move around. Hence, other alternatives, for example, walk the dog more often should be done, so that the dog can stay in a healthy condition.

  2. orube90 on

    I do agree that if one is able to register ,microchip sterilize his/her dog and sending their pet to obedience training, one can be considered responsible dog owner only to an small extent because that is the basis of having any pet.

    I don’t think that having the behaviors mentioned in yyeweii’s post can be used as an indicator that the owners are responsible. Yes, the owners are responsible when they bother to register, microchip, sterilize their dog and send it for obedience training but are they a responsible owner if they leave their dogs out in the hot sun without water and shade?

    I don’t think so.

    A pet is for a lifetime, and the owners must be prepared to care for their pets till they die. Responsible pet ownership doesn’t end at registering, micro chipping, sterilizing and sending them for obedience training; it has to last for a lifetime. Some examples of good attitude/behaviors are: cleaning up the mess their pets make if they defect in the public and bringing them to the vet for yearly vaccination and check-up.
    I feel that normative pressure plays a part towards irresponsible role towards dog ownership; one would not strive to do better if there is no one to compare/compete with. Most owners would adopt responsible pet ownership if they see people doing that, it kind of influence them in a way.

  3. leothg on

    I do not agree that the behaviors mentioned are the indicators of a responsible dog owner.

    Liable, competent, solvent, honest, capable, reliable and trustworthy are just some of the words that were the Synonyms of the word ‘Responsible’. To be responsible is more than bringing your dog for sterilization, microchipping or what not, they are no difference than registering your iPhone5 1 year warranty from the Apple service centre. The word ‘Responsible’ holds a deeper meaning than that, you are not responsible for your iPhone but you are simply ‘owning’ your iPhone.

    It is true that for a dog owners are deem as a responsible owner when they perform acts such as confinement, registration, microchipping, desexing, participation in formal obedience training and regular socialization practices for their pets. However, like what orube90 previously mentioned, these are just the basis of having any pet. Are they truely enough for pet owners to be awarded as ‘responsible’ pet owners when they finish these basis procedures?

    An animal is a living being, that is just any human being. Being responsible for a dog, means other than providing it with shelter, food and accommodation, you must also show care, concern and warmth for the pet. Having a pet is not like buying a toy or owning your own smart phone, the pet is following you for the rest of its life.

    It is contradicting that dog owners own dogs to compete with other dog owners. Ultimately, getting a dog is the same as getting a partner for a lifetime. Normative pressure that results to irresponsible dog owners are the same as parents who only seek results for their child. If there are some ways to negate normative pressures, it will definitely help in reducing irresponsible dog owners.

    • yyeweii on

      I do agree with leothg and orube90 that the behaviors mentioned in the reading such as registering, microchipping, sterilizing and proper training, are just the basis required after making a decision to keep a pet dog.

      In order to be a responsible dog owner, he or she definitely has to go far more than just doing the basics. Proper care and concern has to be shown to the dog throughout its lifetime. More importantly, it is the love from their owners that the dog or any other pets wish for to live a happy life.

      Imagine that you as the owner, is all they have since the day you bought or adopt them. Their future and lives are all in your hands from that very day; whether or not they will survive in this world and live their lifetime happily.


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