Objective—To assess the effects of gender and parental status of dog owners on knowledge of and attitudes toward factors associated with dog aggression directed toward children.
Population—804 dog owners.
Procedures—A questionnaire was distributed to owners of all dogs examined at a university veterinary hospital between January and April 2007. Respondents were asked to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with 37 statements regarding dog behavior and safety practices for dog-child interactions. Responses were compared between women and men and between parents and nonparents.
Results—Of 804 questionnaires that were completed, 421 (52%) were completed by parents and 598 (74%) were completed by women. There was a general lack of knowledge regarding dog behavior and safety practices for dog-child interactions. Women were more knowledgeable than men, regardless of parental status. Mothers were more knowledgeable than fathers and female nonparents regarding interactions with young children and had greater awareness than female nonparents and males (regardless of parental status) regarding interactions with infants and toddlers.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that dog owners frequently had only limited knowledge of dog behavior and often were unaware of factors that increased the risk of dog bites to children. The veterinary examination presents an important opportunity for education of dog owners regarding dog behavior, including body language, social signals, resource-guarding, and self-defense, and the risks of dog bites to infants and young children.
Objective—To evaluate the association between pruritus and anxiety-related and aggressive behaviors in dogs.
Animals—238 dogs between 1 and 8 years old.
Procedures—Information including a score for general degree of pruritus (visual analogue scale from 0 to 10) and frequency of anxiety-related and aggressive behaviors was collected via a survey distributed to clients at 3 privately owned practices.
Results—Median score for pruritus was 2.4. Dogs were assigned to 2 groups on the basis of pruritus score (nonpruritic [0 to 2.4] and pruritic [2.5 to 10]). There was no significant difference between pruritic and nonpruritic dogs with regard to aggression or with regard to reactivity to being alone; to thunderstorms or noises; or to unfamiliar people, animals, or objects. Post hoc analysis revealed significantly more reactivity to thunderstorms or noises in dogs treated with glucocorticoids (18/37 [49%]) than in those not administered glucocorticoids (57/197 [29%]).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—An association was not detected between pruritus and aggressive, anxious, or fearful behavior in dogs. There was greater reactivity to thunderstorms or noises in glucocorticoid-treated dogs. These findings do not preclude the possibility of a relationship between certain dermatoses or pruritic conditions and behavior. However, a concurrent behavioral abnormality cannot be assumed to result from a dermatosis and be expected to resolve with treatment of only the skin disease. Dogs with behavioral disorders and pruritic disease require primary treatment of both conditions. Additional studies to examine the effect of disease and glucocorticoids on canine behavior are warranted.
Objective—To characterize the effects of diazepam in dogs with behavior problems and to determine whether adverse effects were of sufficient concern to owners to prompt drug discontinuation.
Sample Population—37 dogs and their owners.
Procedures—Dogs for which diazepam had been prescribed by the behavior service of a veterinary teaching hospital from July 2005 through June 2007 were identified. Owners were interviewed via telephone to obtain data on dose and frequency of administration of diazepam, effectiveness, adverse effects, and, when applicable, reasons for discontinuing the drug.
Results—Diazepam was described as very (24% [9/37]) or somewhat (43% [16/37]) effective by most owners. At the time of the interview, 18 (49%) owners reported that they were still administering diazepam to their dogs. For the remainder, reasons for discontinuation included adverse effects (58% [11/19]) and lack of efficacy (53% [10/19]). Reported adverse effects included sedation, increased appetite, ataxia, agitation, increased activity, and aggression. Owners administering diazepam to ameliorate fear of thunderstorms (24% [9/37]) were more likely to view diazepam as effective than were owners of dogs that received it for separation anxiety (54% [20/37]). Owners of dogs that received ≥ 0.8 mg of diazepam/kg (0.36 mg/lb) were more likely to report increased activity as an adverse effect than were owners of dogs that received < 0.8 mg/kg.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Adverse effects of diazepam in dogs were commonly reported and often led to drug discontinuation. Owner education and follow-up is recommended to avoid treatment failure when prescribing diazepam for anxiety-related behavior problems in dogs.
Objective—To determine prevalence of ownerdirected
aggression and identify associated environmental
and genetic factors in English Springer
Animals—1,053 adult English Springer Spaniels.
Procedure—A mail survey was sent to 2,400 randomly
selected owners of adult American Kennel
Club-registered English Springer Spaniels. Dogs with
a history of aggression to family members and familiar
humans were compared with dogs without such a
Results—1,053 questionnaires (56.1% of the
1,877 delivered) were completed. A history of
owner-directed growling or more intense aggression
was reported in 510 (48.4%) dogs. Two hundred
seventy-seven (26.3%) dogs had bitten a
human in the past; 65.2% of bites were directed at
familiar (owner or nonowner) adults and children.
Variables associated with owner-directed aggression
included sex of dog (male), neuter status
(neutered, regardless of sex), show or bench lines,
age > 4 years, aggression to unfamiliar adults and
children, acquisition from a hobby breeder, less
responsiveness to obedience cues, and a specific
kennel and 1 popular sire from that kennel in a 4-
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Owner-directed
aggression in adult English Springer Spaniels was associated
with a number of environmental, sex-related, and
inherited factors. To reduce the risk of aggression,
prospective owners might seek a female, hunting-type
English Springer Spaniel from an experienced breeder.
However, because risk factors are broad and varied,
there are limitations to the extent to which behavior can
be predicted and further study is needed of the inheritance
of aggression in this breed. (J Am Vet Med Assoc
Objective—To determine the effect of preadoption counseling for owners on house-training success among dogs acquired from shelters.
Sample Population—113 dog owners.
Procedures—Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 54) or a control (59) group. Dog owners in the treatment group received counseling (5 minutes' duration) regarding house-training. Owners in the control group did not receive counseling, but all other adoption procedures were otherwise identical to those applied to the treatment group. All participants were contacted by telephone 1 month after adoption of a dog for assessment of house-training status and related issues by use of a standardized survey method; data were compared between groups.
Results—Most shelter dogs were considered successfully house-trained by their owners 1 month after adoption. Furthermore, dogs were considered house-trained by significantly more owners who received preadoption counseling than control group owners (98.1% vs 86.4%). Owners who received counseling used verbal punishment on their dogs during house-training less frequently and applied enzymatic cleaners to urine- or feces-soiled areas more frequently than owners in the control group.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results have suggested that brief preadoption counseling for owners enhances successful house-training of dogs adopted from shelters. Counseling owners at the time of pet acquisition may thus have beneficial effects in the prevention of inappropriate elimination behaviors. Veterinarians and animal care staff should be encouraged to devote time to counsel new pet owners on successful house-training, as well as other healthcare and behavioral needs.