Tag Archives: responsible dog owner

The problem with promoting ‘responsible dog ownership’

Responsible dog owner

Dog welfare campaigns that tell people to be “responsible owners” don’t help to promote behaviour change, a new University of Liverpool report suggests.

Dog owners interviewed for a study published in Anthrozoös all considered themselves to be responsible owners, despite there being great variation in key aspects of their dog-owning behaviour.

“Policy and campaigning messages related to dog ownership and welfare tend to focus on the concept of being a responsible owner. However, while ‘responsible dog ownership’ has considerable appeal as a concept, how it is perceived and interpreted has not been studied in-depth,” explains lead researcher Dr Carri Westgarth, a dog behaviour expert at the University of Liverpool.

In order to better understand beliefs and views about responsibility in dog ownership, the researchers carried out in-depth interviews with dog-owning households and shorter interviews with dog owners while walking their dogs or representing their breed at a dog show. The interviews focused on dog walking, an issue perceived to be a component of responsible dog ownership, as well as other aspects of campaign messages, such as dog fouling, aggression and neutering.

Dr Westgarth also reflected on her own experiences of walking her three dogs, and on her many conversations with other owners over the two-year study period.

Dr Westgarth said: “It’s clear from our research that responsible dog ownership means different things to different people at different times. It emerges from a blurred intersection of the needs of dogs, owners, and others, where often the dog comes first.

“Dog owners do what they perceive to be best for their individual dog, even if this goes against general advice given such as how often dogs need walking or neutering campaigns.

“Yet this perception may be different from to what others feel is best for that dog, or how people who are impacted by the dog want the dog and their owner to behave.

“Therefore, simply telling owners that they should “be responsible” is of limited use as a message to promote behaviour change because they already believe that they are. Any educational messages for dog owners need to be specific what they want owners to do and explain why that is in the best interest of the dog that they love so much.”

The report authors say that further research is now required in order to understand the implications for wider aspects of responsible dog ownership practices.


Research reference:

Carri Westgarth, Robert M Christley, Garry Marvin & Elizabeth Perkins (2019) The Responsible Dog Owner: The Construction of Responsibility, Anthrozoös, 32:5, 631-646, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2019.1645506

Source:  University of Liverpool

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I am the owner of a responsible dog

Izzy, my greyhound, is a responsible dog and I, according to the Christchurch City Council, am a responsible dog owner.

Her yellow tag this year denotes that she is registered with the Christchurch City Council for the 2019/20 year.

In our district, a Responsible Dog owner is one that has met these criteria:

Izzy responsible dog

Izzy the greyhound

  • have been the registered owner of a dog and have resided in the Christchurch City Council district for at least 12 months
  • have paid dog registration fees on or before 30 June for the last two years
  • have all dogs micro-chipped in accordance with the Dog Control Act, including providing the microchip number to the Council
  • have a licence to keep multiple dogs on their property (if applicable)
  • inform the Council of any dog registration or residential address changes, including information on the death, sale, or transfer of any dogs, and including the birth of any pups.

The dog owner must have a property at which the dog resides that:

  • is suitably fenced and gated to contain the dog
  • allows dog-free access to a door of the dwelling for authorised callers.

The owner must have complied with the requirements of the Dog Control Act 1996 and the current Christchurch City Council Dog Control Bylaw, and must not, in the last two years, have:

  • had a dog that has been found at large, been uncontrolled, or been chased, returned or impounded by Council Animal Management staff
  • been issued with a warning notice or infringement notice for any dog-related offence
  • been prosecuted for any dog-related offence.

My Responsible Dog Owner status qualifies me for substantial discounts for dog registration.  Instead of $93.00 for the year, I paid $59.00.

While some properties can be configured for a dog-free access door, others may not.  But that’s about the only criteria that I think should be difficult for owners to achieve.  Having a dog is a luxury, not a right.  And bringing a dog into your life means that you are prepared to invest the time and money to keep them healthy, happy and well-behaved.

And in Izzy’s opinion, being a Responsible Dog is also easy:

  • walk on a lead with your owner or have excellent recall off-lead
  • greet other dogs respectfully, regardless of their size
  • don’t jump up for attention
  • have your owner clean up after you
  • move over when it is time to share the bed or sofa
  • promote adoption because there are many dogs out there needing homes
  • show unconditional love to the members of your family – they need it.

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

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

 

The 5 types of dog walker

A new study in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management discusses the environmental, health and safety issues of dog walking and, in particular, scooping the poop.

Please Clean UpChristopher Lowe of the University of Central Lancashire in Preston (UK) and colleagues hoped to determine what factors influence dog walker behaviour and how those who do not do the right thing might be persuaded to take charge of their dog mess.

The team suggests that there are five types of dog walker from the most to the least socially and environmentally responsible:

  • Proud to pick up – happy to be seen carrying dog waste, will pick up in all locations and take it home if no bins are available
  • It is the right thing to do – will pick up in public places but will seek to dispose of the waste as soon as it is practical; often embarrassed to be seen carrying bagged waste
  • I have done my job – if there is no bin available will leave the bagged waste to be dealt with by someone else
  • Only if I have to – will only pick up in the presence of other people – likely to discard when no one is looking
  • Disengaged – will not pick up in any situation even if they are aware of the environmental consequences of their actions

Dog faeces are not only as unpleasant as any animal waste, they can also carry parasitic diseases that have health impacts on people and animals that come into contact with them. For instance, they might transmit toxocariasis, via the larvae (immature worms) of the dog roundworm (Toxocara canis), which can cause blindness, asthma and neurological problems in those affected. Dog faeces from animals that eat raw meat and bones are also suspected of causing neosporosis in cattle. The researchers also point out that the presence of dog faeces in country parks, walks and other recreational areas can deter visitors and so have a local economic impact in those areas.

The team’s final thoughts:  The issue of getting dog walkers to do the right thing is both complex and emotive….more research is needed.

Source:  AlphaGalileo media statement

A soapbox moment

I hate seeing ads like this one, which appeared on the intranet site of a local (major) employer:

My 11 month old Bull Mastiff / Husky Cross needs a new home.  You would have to be a special owner to take him on – last night on our walk he killed a sheep and I cannot trust him now around my children and others.If you have the time and inclination (and love) to rehouse him, I would be very happy as my only other option is to put him down (as recommended by the Council).He is a lovely looking dog, tan coloured and handsome as and generally playful and kind and reasonably obedient – he is a puppy after all and still learning.

To me, it reads:

“I’ve taken responsibility for a puppy but last night he made a mistake and I don’t want to deal with it.  Therefore, I’m looking for a kind-hearted person to take pity on the dog because if you don’t, I’m going to kill it.”

(P.S.  I’ll probably get another dog after this one is gone and if it isn’t perfect, the same thing will happen to him.)

This is NOT responsible dog ownership.  A puppy is a life commitment and dedication and training are needed.

I’m a forever dog

Today I read (yet another) listing on Trade Me for a dog that is free to a good home.   His  family can’t give him the time and exercise he needs.  Dogs are a commitment requiring responsibility and accountability.   When will some people get that?

This poster from the Calgary Humane Society says it all:

Extended beach ban in Auckland

The Auckland (New Zealand) Council is proposing to further restrict the ability of dog owners to exercise their dogs at the beach.  This is a sad day for New Zealand and for New Zealand dog owners.

The bylaw will  prohibit dogs on beaches from the Saturday of Labour Weekend (October) to March 31 during the hours of 10am till 6.30pm.

The Hibiscus and Bays local boards want the ban to end on March 1, which would allow dog owners 30 more days of usage of the beaches.  As part of their submission, they showed the Council representatives a host of pictures of empty beaches during the month of March – challenging the notion that allowing dogs on the beaches would restrict the enjoyment and rights of other beach users.

Responsible dog owners of New Zealand – fight for your rights – otherwise, there are many people very willing to take those rights away from you!