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  • Author or Editor: Ilana Reisner x
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Abstract

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.

Design—Prevalence survey.

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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of ownerdirected aggression and identify associated environmental and genetic factors in English Springer Spaniels.

Design—Prevalence survey.

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 history.

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- generation pedigree.

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 2005;227:1594–1603)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

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.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the association between pruritus and anxiety-related and aggressive behaviors in dogs.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of preadoption counseling for owners on house-training success among dogs acquired from shelters.

Design—Prospective study.

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.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

Establishing a prognosis for dogs with dominance-related aggression is difficult. Some dominant-aggressive dogs respond well to treatment; others continue to be serious risks for their owners. A study was performed to identify characteristics of dominance-related aggression and to identify risk factors associated with whether the aggressive behavior led to euthanasia. Medical records of 110 dogs with dominance-related aggression were examined retrospectively; characteristics of owner-directed aggression and eventual outcome of the dogs were recorded. By means of logistic regression, 2 different models were found to describe the association between behavior characteristics and outcome. In the first model, severe aggression in response to benign dominance challenges and body weight > 18.2 kg were associated with outcome. In the second model, unpredictability of aggression and a history of being purchased were associated with outcome. We concluded that dominance-related aggressive behavior can be subclassified according to severity and type and that outcome (ie, euthanasia) may be predictable in some cases.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Objective—

To determine the effect that feeding diets containing a low (17%), medium (25%), or high (32%) protein content would have on behavior in dogs.

Design—

Prospective, controlled study.

Animals—

12 dogs with dominance aggression, 12 dogs with hyperactivity, 12 dogs with territorial aggression, and 14 control dogs without behavioral problems.

Procedure—

Dogs were fed each of the diets for a 2-week period, and owners were instructed to score their dogs' behavior on a daily basis.

Results—

Behavior of the dogs with dominance aggression, dogs with hyperactivity, and control dogs was unchanged by the dietary manipulations. Territorial aggression was significantly reduced when dogs were fed the low- or medium-protein diet, compared with territorial aggression when fed the high-protein diet. Post hoc analysis indicated that this effect was attributable to a marked reduction in aggression in a subset of the group (n = 7) in which territorial aggression was a result of fear.

Clinical Implications—

Results of this study suggest that a reduction in dietary protein content is not generally useful in the treatment of behavior problems in dogs, but may be appropriate in dogs with territorial aggression that is a result of fear. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;208:376-379)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association