Dog Behaviour Problems and the Dog-Owner relationship

Dog Behaviour Problems and the Dog-Owner relationship

The Crumbling Dog-Owner Bond

Dogs live closely with us sharing many activities. Owning a dog is rewarding wether it is for companionship or as a working partner. What if this relationship is crumbling?  Dog behaviour problems feel stressful and can affect the dog-owner relationship. This upset of the dog-owner dyad, concerns many owners, who value this bond . Repairing, or enhancing the dog-owner bond is an important aspect in resolving dog behaviour problems. Understanding our pet better enhances the relationship, promotes co-operation and the potential to resolve the dog behaviour concern.

Dogs have coevolved with people. The relationships formed are important. Pet owners were found to have less stress and a greater positive mood Khalid A et al (2019). People and dogs are a social species. Group cohesion works best with a balance of relationships, stable pack dynamics and co-operation.

Each dog and person is an individual. Each will have quirks, good points and challenges. We as owners may have expectations of our dog, with an attitude and style of ownership. Just as we have different relationships with the various people we know, a dog will have a  canine perspective and different bond with each of the people it lives with and knows O’Farrell V(1997).

As study by Rehn T & Keeling L (2016) indicated that there is variety in the dog and human bonds, which needs a dyadic approach. Both the dog and owner can have an effect on the relationship. Past and present experiences, an individuals style/attitude, along with learning will also influence the present relationship.

In their study Caneji-Teixeira T et al (2019) found that out of balance, non harmonious dog-human dyads had more stressful relationships and often reported dog behaviour problems. The most frequent dog behaviour reported in the study was dog-person aggression. Not all non harmonious dog-human dyads had dog-person aggression. The relationship was influenced positively, or negatively, by the owners style and approach to dog ownership. The study indicated that some of the dog participants may have also have had less training and socialisation than they needed, as an individual. Some relationships were influenced by the dog experiencing a trauma. There are many other variable factors in dog-owner relationships Caneji-Teixeira T et al (2019).

The dog’s experience of the relationship and past relationships, attachment style of the dog, the caregiver’s manner and communication style of the owner are variable factors. An imbalanced, or misunderstood communication may highlight sources of social relationship upset. Knowing this is useful and can help guide and adjust the relationship to become less stressful and mutually co-operative Rehn T & Keeling L (2016).

The most important training tool we have is our relationship with our dog

Repairing the frequently, not harmonious, dog-owner relationships is a key factor in behaviour modification. It is very common. A study by Herwijnen I et al (2018) found that dog owners were most unsatisfied with the dog-owner relationship, if the dog exhibited unwanted behaviour. The owners were concerned about the costs, that the dog behaviour problem had on their dog-owner relationship. 

Addressing dog behaviour problems in the early stages was recommended, to get the relationship, along with the dog behaviour problems, back on track. Indeed the dog-owner relationship plays a key role in addressing dog behaviour problems. An owner that has keen compliance to apply the recommended, required, relevant strategies and management, will influence their dog’s behaviour  Herwijnen I et al (2018).

A non harmonious dog-owner relationship does not indicate a bad owner, or dog, but a just a dog-owner relationship that needs guidance. With the animal behaviourists help, the owners can enhance their dog-owner relationship for the better, reduce the stress on family life and begin to learn how to modify their dog’s behaviour problem. 

References; Caneji-Teixeira T et al (2019) Identification of dysfunctional human-dog dyads through dog ownership histories. Available from; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6626146/. Accessed 10/5/20. Herwijnen I et al (2018 )Dog ownership satisfaction determinants in the dog-owner. Relationship and the dog’s behaviour. Available from; https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0204592. accessed 10/5/20. Khalid A et al (2019) Effect of pet interaction on stress reduction and  positive mood enhancement among pet-owners and non-pet owners. Human animal interaction. Available from; upa-hai.org. O’Farrell V(1997) Owner attitudes and dog behaviour problems. Available from Science direct.com. Rehn T & Keeling L (2016) Measuring do-owner relationships: crossing boundaries between animal behaviour and human psychology. Available from; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159116302088. Accessed 10/5/20.