Category Archives: dog ownership

Owning a dog is influenced by our genetic make-up

A team of Swedish and British scientists have studied the heritability of dog ownership using information from 35,035 twin pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry. The results indicate that an individual’s genetic make-up has a great influence on whether they choose to acquire a dog. Genes appear to account for more than half of the difference in dog ownership.

Dog ownership

“Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others” Photograph: Mikael Wallerstedt

Dogs were the first domesticated animal and have had a close relationship with humans for at least 15,000 years. Today, dogs are common pets in our society and are considered to increase the well-being and health of their owners. The team compared the genetic make-up of twins (using the Swedish Twin Registry – the largest of its kind in the world) with dog ownership. The results are published for the first time in Scientific Reports. The goal was to determine whether dog ownership has a heritable component.

“We were surprised to see that a person’s genetic make-up appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog. As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times. Although dogs and other pets are common household members across the globe, little is known how they impact our daily life and health. Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others,” says Tove Fall, lead author of the study, and Professor in Molecular Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.

Health benefits of owning a dog

Carri Westgarth, Lecturer in Human-Animal interaction at the University of Liverpool and co-author of the study, adds: “These findings are important as they suggest that supposed health benefits of owning a dog reported in some studies may be partly explained by different genetics of the people studied”.

Studying twins is a well-known method for disentangling the influences of environment and genes on our biology and behaviour. Because identical twins share their entire genome, and non-identical twins on average share only half of the genetic variation, comparisons of the within-pair concordance of dog ownership between groups can reveal whether genetics play a role in owning a dog.

Genetics play a major role

The researchers found concordance rates of dog ownership to be much larger in identical twins than in non-identical ones – supporting the view that genetics indeed plays a major role in the choice of owning a dog.

“These kind of twin studies cannot tell us exactly which genes are involved, but at least demonstrate for the first time that genetics and environment play about equal roles in determining dog ownership. The next obvious step is to try to identify which genetic variants affect this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors such as allergy” says Patrik Magnusson, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden and Head of the Swedish Twin Registry.

“The study has major implications for understanding the deep and enigmatic history of dog domestication” says zooarchaeologist and co-author of the study Keith Dobney, Chair of Human Palaeoecology in the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. “Decades of archaeological research have helped us construct a better picture of where and when dogs entered into the human world, but modern and ancient genetic data are now allowing us to directly explore why and how?”

Source:  Uppsala University

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It makes my tail wag when the poop is in the bag

A common problem for most communities is ensuring that dog parents take responsibility for their dog’s poop.

This brochure at the Town of Needham offices caught my eye…a plea to dog owners and walkers to bag it and trash it…

What initiatives does your town have to ensure poop is scooped?

Municipup says

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

CSI for dog poop

PooPrints is a DNA pet waste management service which helps condominium, apartments and senior living communities to identify owners who are not picking up their dog’s waste.

It’s basically CSI for dog poop.

As part of lease or purchase agreements, there is mandatory DNA testing of the resident’s dogs which is done with a mouth swab.  PooPrints analyses the dog’s DNA and then adds it to its database.

If a pile of poop is found on the property, site managers collect a sample of poop using a PooPrints sample collection kit and send it to the lab for testing.  Because cells of the intestine are sloughed off as feces passes through the digestive tract, DNA can be extracted from the sample and matched to the profiles found in the database.

And then the offending dog owner can receive a warning, citation or other enforcement action taken against them.

This type of profiling works well in closed communities because there’s a mechanism for capturing the DNA of the dogs who live there.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pets are a priority when moving

Is it a case of the tail wagging the dog, or every dog having his day? However you define it, the cat is out of the bag when it comes to pet owners and moving into a new home.

A new survey from US company Mayflower reveals pet priorities are often equal to or more important than human-focused amenities when American dog and cat owners decide on new homes and communities.

african american man with labrador dog in new apartment with cardboard boxes

Overall, pet owners say one-third of their overall decision to move was related to their pet, and survey respondents cited willingness to pay significantly more and even forgo perks like shorter commutes and updated kitchens in favor of pet-friendly features.

The 2019 Mayflower Mover Insights Survey explored the process of moving or preparing to move with a pet, including just how much pets factor into choices about home and community features. According to the survey, cat and dog owners who have moved recently say their pet influenced which new home they chose by 39 percent and which new community they chose by 26 percent. Additionally:

  • Pet owners who plan to move say their pet will influence their choice of home by 48 percent and their choice of community by 33 percent.
  • Pet owners who are likely to move in the next five years are willing to pay an average of 32 percent more each month to get the pet-friendly features they want, such as a fenced-in yard and plenty of indoor space, as compared to their current monthly housing costs.
  • Kitchen vs. Canine: Half of future movers (50 percent) want an updated kitchen, and the other half (50 percent) prioritize a pet-friendly feature.
  • Pet vs. Place of Business: While nearly half (49 percent) of future movers want to live close to work, the other half (51 percent) prioritizes pet-friendly features in their new home.

Mayflower’s survey also found more than three-fourths of past movers and future movers with pets didn’t stay close or don’t plan to stay close to their current neighborhood or part of town when choosing their next home. Yet, more than two-thirds of past movers tried to stay close to their pet’s favorite human and furry friends, their favorite park and their vet. The pet-related decisions meant more than staying near their old neighborhood.

“In the last few years, we’ve heard more and more from our customers about the impact moving has on pets. With every move, we strive to ensure the process is smooth for both our customers and their animals by providing expertise, information and constant support,” said Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications, Mayflower.

Settling in: Stressful or smooth for Fido and Fluffy  

Pets may get the priority for perks when their humans relocate, but moving is still a stressful activity for dogs and cats. Mayflower’s survey also shed light on pets’ experiences during moves.

  • Half of pet owners (50 percent) reported their pets struggled to adjust to their new home – especially the feline friends. Nearly two-thirds of all cat owners say their cat had difficulty adjusting.
  • Prior to a move, almost half of pet owners (47 percent) sought information about moving with a pet, including researching online, talking with others who have moved with a pet or speaking with a vet.
  • To smooth the transition, eight in 10 pet owners gave their pet extra attention and showed them where things were in the new home.
  • Nearly half of all future owners (48 percent) will introduce their pet to the new home prior to moving in to minimize their dog and/or cat’s stress.
  • More than half of all survey respondents (53 percent) said their spouse/partner added or will add more stress to the move than their pet did.

However, there’s still good news for pet owners: more than nine in 10 owners say their pets adjusted to their new setting in less than a month. And, more than 90 percent of pet owners agree that wherever they and their pets are together is instantly home.

Survey Background and Methodology

TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded an online survey of 2,904 American cat and/or dog owners who have moved with their pet(s) within the past five years or are likely to move with their pet(s) within the next five years. The survey was fielded between January 11 to January 20, 2019. Sampling was conducted to balance age, gender, and, for the nationwide sample, geographic region. Some questions were asked with a “Not Applicable” option. Those questions have been reported based on the total number for whom the question/item was applicable. To clarify the different experiences of cat and dog owners, statistics referencing cat and dog owners specifically include only those respondents with a dog(s) or a cat(s) and exclude respondents who own both.

Editor’s note: Additional survey data is available by request. If interested, please contact Bonnie Stack at 314-982-1730 or bonnie.stack@fleishman.com.

About Mayflower

Mayflower is America’s most recognized and trusted moving company. With headquarters in suburban St. Louis, Mayflower maintains a network of 300 affiliated agencies.

Source:  Mayflower Mover press release

Responsible dog ownership

In the USA, it’s National Responsible Pet Ownership month (it’s also Pet Dental Health Month).  How can we explain what it means to be a responsible dog owner/guardian/parent?  There are 4 key areas to consider.

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Choose the right dog at the right time

Making the decision to add a dog to your family is an important life choice.  If the dog needs tons of exercise like a Siberian Husky, and you live in a small apartment and work long hours, then probably not the best choice.  If you are about to start a new job, or are in a new relationship, as examples, then probably not the best timing because you can’t focus your time on integrating your dog into your household.   In New Zealand, there seems to be a lot of people who decide to move overseas; if this is a possibility for you then maybe bringing a dog into your life isn’t the right choice unless you are prepared to take the dog with you (which is an expensive exercise requiring a lot of planning and preparation).

A dog is a lifetime commitment.  Ask yourself – do you have what it takes for the next 10-15 years?

Invest in wellbeing – prevention is better than cure

Be prepared to spend money on things like regular vet checks and vaccinations.  Flea control is another cost that is often overlooked until there’s a problem and by then, the fleas are established in your carpets and causing problems.  Choose a high quality diet (“you are what you eat”) and feed only healthy treats.  Keep your dog fit and trim.

Also important is investing is your dog’s mental health.  Avoid behavior problems by working on training, having enriching activities and toys available in rotation, and regular exercise.  Dogs need sleep, too.  So think carefully about the need for commercial daycare.  For most dogs, these facilities tend to overstimulate dogs and can create other behavioral problems if the dogs is left in these situations every day of the week.

As a professional canine massage therapist, I highly recommend massage as a technique for wellbeing and not just rehabilitation after injuries because it helps relax the dog and keeps their bodies moving efficiently.  It can also identify suspect lumps/bumps early so they can be checked by the vet.  Spend the money for a regular professional massage or take a class to learn basic massage which you can do yourself.

Compliance – obey the law

Licensing costs and leash laws are commonplace.  Cleaning up your dog’s poos is expected. We can all do our part by complying with local regulations.

Carry ID

In New Zealand, microchipping is mandatory.  It’s also advisable to have an identification tag on your dog’s collar with your phone number.  In 2011, when we experienced our large earthquake in Christchurch, many dogs went missing.  Those that had microchips registered on the national database and/or had identification tags found their way back to their families much faster.  Some never made it home.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Unleashing success

Pets bring joy, companionship and comfort to people’s lives every day, but new research found business leaders believe pet ownership contributed to their success. A survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital® discovered a correlation between pets and professional achievements: 93 percent of C-suite executives surveyed in the U.S. grew up with a pet, with 78 percent attributing their career success in part to owning a pet as a child.

“At Banfield Pet Hospital, we’ve long recognized the special bond between people and their pets, as well as the positive impact pets have on our society,” said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. “From the pet ownership lessons we learned as children, to the ways our four-legged friends currently help us evolve, connect with others, and stay grounded, our latest research supports the notion we’ve had all along – that there may be a link between pets and their ability to help shape us as people.”

Unleashing success

WHETHER FELINE OR FEATHERY, PETS MAKE AN IMPACT
Banfield’s survey found childhood pet ownership may influence business success, and it isn’t just dogs and cats that have a positive impact. While more than four in five (83 percent) C-suite executives surveyed grew up with a dog, and almost three in five (59 percent) grew up with a cat, nearly two in five (37 percent) grew up with pets like birds, rabbits or rodents. Regardless of the pet, top business leaders agree their pet companions taught them valuable lessons as a child, such as responsibility, empathy and creativity – qualities they believe helped them to thrive as leaders in the workplace.

SIT, STAY AND SUCCEED
Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of those surveyed said their childhood pet taught them more valuable lessons than their first internship. C-suite executives feel their pets also helped them to develop other important leadership skills, including discipline (92 percent), organization (79 percent) and the ability to identify and anticipate business needs (38 percent).

CUT TO THE (CREATIVE) CHASE 
Many leaders surveyed also felt having a childhood pet unlocked vital lessons in creativity. Eighty-four percent of C-Suite executives who grew up with a pet said they’re creative, and almost three in five (59 percent) credit their childhood pet for having a positive impact on their ability to think outside the box. More than three in four (77 percent) C-suite executives said walking a pet helps them brainstorm business ideas and boosts creativity at work.

TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS
Didn’t grow up with a pet? Not to worry, as Banfield’s survey also suggests current pet ownership can go a long way in the workplace. Nearly all current pet owners surveyed reported they stick to a schedule or routine (86 percent), have better time management (86 percent) and are good at multitasking (86 percent) because of their pets. Sixty-two percent of C-suite executives surveyed believe pets had a positive impact on their ability to build relationships with co-workers and clients—and that’s true of both working professionals and C-suite executives, with 80 percent of those surveyed reporting they feel more connected to colleagues who are pet owners, and nearly the same number (79 percent) think co-workers with pets are hard workers.

A FUTURE WITH FIDO
When it comes to future generations, almost all (90 percent) of C-suite executives surveyed feel children would be more successful at school if they cared for a pet. And some business leaders shared they were responsible for taking care of their childhood pet, including grooming (54 percent), training (42 percent) and health needs (36 percent). Whether career-related or otherwise, it’s clear pets can make a huge impact on our lives, so it’s no wonder nearly one in five (19 percent) of C-suite executives who grew up with a pet would go back in time and add another to their pack. 

Source:  Banfield Animal Hospital

Purina’s pets and people survey

It turns out dogs are more than just man and woman’s best friend. They are also counselors, confidants, bunk mates, stress relievers, and overwhelmingly viewed as part of the family, according to the 2018 Pets and People Survey by Just Right® by Purina®.

The brand’s survey of more than 1,000 dog owners revealed fascinating details about the unique relationship and unbreakable bond people share with their dogs.

Purina owner survey

Among the key findings:

  • 95 percent view their dog as part of the family,
  • 62 percent said their dog helps them de-stress after a long day at work, and
  • 55 percent believe their dog provides emotional comfort after receiving bad news.

The survey also found dogs have helped 15 percent of men gain the attention of the opposite sex, while half of all women surveyed said they preferred time with their dog over time with their partner and/or other family members. Among Millennials age 18 to 34 years old, 56 percent said they have purchased birthday cakes for their dogs, and 77 percent said they feed their dogs before they feed themselves.

“Having dogs myself, I know firsthand that the emotional connection between dog owners and their pets runs deep,” said Julia Pitlyk, brand manager for Just Right by Purina. “We conducted this survey to learn more about what exactly the owner-dog relationship looks like and while each relationship provides that deep connection, the results really support our belief that every dog is unique – some may be confidants while others are effective wingmen.”

About the Survey

Research Now SSI conducted an online survey on behalf of Just Right by Purina among adults ages 18+ who are dog owners and have some responsibility over the well-being of their pet. A total of 1,010 responses were collected between March 26 and March 29, 2018. The online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Source:  PR newswire