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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.