Owners’ understanding of dog behaviour influences dog welfare. This study aimed to investigate owners’ experiences of living with dogs and perceptions of dog behaviour/behaviour change. Data from an ongoing UK/ROI longitudinal study of dogs were used. Open-ended survey data (n = 3577 comments, n = 1808 dogs) when dogs were 12/16 weeks (data combined), 6, 12, 18 and 24 months were analysed to cover the dog’s puppyhood/adolescence. To evaluate the usefulness of open-ended survey questions, both quantitative textual and qualitative thematic analyses were employed. Textual analysis identified an overall positive sentiment at all timepoints; the proportion of positive: negative sentiments increased with the dog’s age. Words related to ‘love’ were the most frequent descriptors at all but the first timepoint, when ‘bite’ was the most frequent descriptor. Qualitative analysis helped to identify that owners attribute dog behaviour to ‘Dog’s biology’, ‘Personality/deliberate action’ and ‘External influences’. Analysis of open-ended survey responses helped to identify changes in perception over time. When dogs were young, owners described problematic behaviours as ‘mischievous’, unintentional and context-specific. Similar behaviours shown by older dogs were seen as ‘deliberate’. Both positive and negative experiences of dog ownership were identified. However, as not all respondents answered open-ended questions, the generalisability of our findings is limited.
|Cite this work||
Researchers should cite this work as follows: