Viewing parents of a puppy may reduce risk of canine behavioural problems

Date Released: 

Research undertaken by the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) suggests that to reduce the chances of behavioural problems in pet dogs, new puppy owners should make sure that they see the parents of their puppy.

Behavioural problems in dogs present a significant problem to society.  It impacts on the welfare of the animals and can cause distress to the owners.   Problem behaviours are one of the main reasons why many dogs are handed over to rescue shelters or are put to sleep. 
Rosie Barclay, APBC Chairman, said: “There is growing scientific evidence suggesting that educating owners about puppy-raising practices can reduce the incidence of such unwanted behaviour and it is often stated that seeing the puppy’s mother is important. However, no studies have examined this and so we investigated whether this statement was true in relation to behavioural problems”.
The research paper, called ‘Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems’, is published in The Veterinary Record today.
Dr Carri Westgarth, lead researcher of the study and APBC Member from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, said: “The results show that 80% of prospective owners did see at least one of the puppy’s parents. Those who had seen only one parent were 2.5 times more likely to take their dog to see an animal behaviourist than those who saw both parents and those owners who saw neither of the puppy’s parents were four times more likely to see an animal behaviourist.
“These results suggest that to reduce the risk of future unwanted behaviour, it may be advisable that prospective owners see both the parents before purchasing a puppy. More research is now required to see if this advice has a preventative effect”.
Rosie added: “Through viewing the parents, prospective owners can assess their health, temperament and the environment in which the puppies and parents are living. These may all affect the future behaviour of the puppy.”
The work of the APBC also highlights that buying a puppy is a major life-time commitment and other preventative measures can also be put in place to help reduce the likelihood of future behavioural problems.
For further details on helping to raise your puppy please see the handout section on the APBC website.
Full reference:
Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems
C. Westgarth, K. Reevell, R. Barclay
Veterinary Record vetrec-2011-100138 Published Online First:  doi:10.1136/vr.100138
For further information:
APBC Public relations officer: Pippa Hutchison 07764 616122 PositiveImprint [at] aol [dot] com
Carri Westgarth Primary Author  carri [dot] westgarth [at] liverpool [dot] ac [dot] uk (carri [dot] westgarth [at] liverpool [dot] ac [dot] uk)
Rosie Barclay APBC Chair  rosiebarclay [at] uk2 [dot] net
The APBC, founded in 1989, is the leading organisation in the field of companion animal behaviour and many of its members are at the cutting edge of the latest research into this rapidly growing discipline. The APBC organises a number of seminars and events throughout the year for both the veterinary and behaviour professions. Further information can be found at  Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, PO BOX 46, Worcester, WR8 9YS, UK
The University of Liverpool is one of the UK’s leading research institutions with an annual turnover of £410 million, including £150 million for research.  Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide and is a member of the Russell Group.  
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