Dog and owner characteristics affecting the dog-owner relationship

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Iben Helene Coakley Meyer, Björn Forkman

The nature of the relationship between companion dogs and their owners has important impact on the effect of life for both dog and owner. Identifying factors that affect the dogeowner relationship will assist the understanding of how the successful relationship is achieved and how the less successful relationship is mended, with potential benefits for the welfare of both species. In the present study, we investigated the effect of several dog and owner characteristics, including the personality of the dog, on the dogeowner relationship as measured by the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS). Data were collected by inviting owners of dogs that had been tested on the Danish Dog Mentality Assessment (DMA) to answer an online questionnaire. We were able to match 421 owner answers with their dogs’ DMA test results. The questionnaire consisted of the 28 items of the MDORS, as well as questions about the owners and their dogs. Using factor analysis, 5 dog personality traits could be derived from the dogs’ test results on the DMA. The predictive value of questionnaire-based owner and dog variables and the 5 dog personality traits on the dogeowner relationship was tested using multiple linear regressions: 1 for each of the 3 subscales of the MDORS. Overall, the variables investigated only predicted a small proportion of the variance in MDORS scores, and owner characteristics appeared to influence
the dogeowner relationship more than dog personality traits did. We found that children in the family and using the dog only for company were negatively associated with the owners’ perception of the relationship with their dogs. The only dog characteristics to predict the dogeowner relationship were fearfulness and fear-related behavior problems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior - Clinical Applications and Research
Volume9
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
ISSN1558-7878
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ID: 120028908