Researchers at Monash University’s Anthrozoology Research Group have confirmed what many dog owners might respectfully suggest they already know: the ideal companion dog is friendly, obedient, healthy, good with children, fully housetrained and affectionate to its owners.
But dig a little deeper and PhD Candidate and research assistant Tammie King says that significant differences exist between what men and women considered the ideal dog.
“Women preferred male dogs, are willing to spend more time grooming their ideal dog and want a calm and compliant dog,” Ms King said.
“Men preferred female dogs, are likely to spend more money to maintain their ideal dog and are looking for a dog that is energetic, faithful and protective. Men also wanted larger dogs and preferred purebred dogs that are physically impressive to look at.”
“I am not about to enter the minefield of what this might say about men or women but it was statistically significant across the 877 research participants.
Ms King said the research revealed some key issues that could improve the relationships owners have with their dogs.
“Many participants listed obedience as a key characteristic for the ideal dog but only 3.6 per cent of people listed trainability as an important characteristic while around 20 per cent of participants believed that some dogs could not be trained,” Ms King said.
“We found this rather surprising as all dogs can be trained to some extent and there is a direct link between the amount of training an owner does and the obedience of a dog.
“Educating dog owners about the characteristics of different dogs is likely to help reduce the incidence of problem behaviours, such as separation anxiety, destructiveness or aggression. It is also likely to increase owner satisfaction and reduce the number of dogs relinquished to shelters.”
Ms King said the research clearly showed that the Australian public didn’t judge a dog primarily by its physical characteristics.
“We were heartened to see that behavioural characteristics as well as health are recognised as important in determining the ideal dog for most people,” Ms King said.
For more information visit http://www.animalwelfare.net.au/arg/