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Dog obesity: can dog caregivers' (owners') feeding and exercise intentions and behaviors be predicted from attitudes?

By V. I. Rohlf, S. Toukhsati, G. J. Coleman, P. C. Bennett

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Dog obesity is a common nutritional disorder affecting up to 40% of the companion animal (pet) dog population in Australia and other developed nations. A clear understanding of factors determining relevant caregiver (owner) behaviors underpins effective treatment for this disorder. The theory of planned behavior can be used to understand factors contributing to human behavior. This article describes research informed by this theory. The research examined relationships between owners' behavioral beliefs and barriers, normative beliefs and perceptions of control, owners' feeding and exercise behaviors toward their dogs, and the body condition scores (BCSs) of dogs. The study recruited a sample of 182 dog and owner dyads. The researcher independently assessed BCSs. Owners completed a questionnaire measuring relevant feeding and exercise beliefs and behaviors. This revealed significant correlations between many psychological variables and BCSs and between psychological variables and specific owner behaviors: for example, the relationship of low levels of intentions to feed appropriately to ambivalent beliefs toward feeding appropriately and low perceived control. Careful consideration of the specific variables identified will permit the development of more effective interventions.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 13
Issue 3
Pages 213-236
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2010.483871
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Science Centre, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal nutrition
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal science
  5. Animal welfare
  6. APEC countries
  7. Attitudes
  8. Australasia
  9. Australia
  10. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  11. Body condition
  12. Canidae
  13. Canine
  14. Carnivores
  15. Commonwealth of Nations
  16. Conflict
  17. Developed countries
  18. Dogs
  19. Exercise
  20. Fat
  21. Feeding
  22. Human behavior
  23. Humans
  24. Interventions
  25. Mammals
  26. Men
  27. Nutrition
  28. Nutritional disorders
  29. obesity
  30. Oceania
  31. OECD countries
  32. peer-reviewed
  33. perceptions
  34. Pets and companion animals
  35. Primates
  36. Questionnaires
  37. Social psychology and social anthropology
  38. therapeutics
  39. therapy
  40. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed