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Dog ownership is a popular practice in Australia as well as in other developed nations. While dog ownership confers various benefits to individual owners and the wider community there are disadvantages associated with high dog ownership rates. Dogs can transmit disease to people and other animals. Barking dogs can cause neighbourhood disharmony and roaming dogs cause road accidents and damage to property. Many lost and abandoned dogs end up in shelters if not reclaimed or rehomed are euthanased for behaviours problems or because they are unwanted. Further to this, dogs fed and/or exercised inappropriately may develop obesity which is implicated in number of diseases affecting the dogs’ quality of life and longevity.
Various management practices must therefore be performed by owners to promote both the welfare of dogs and the welfare of communities. Research investigating factors that influence owner behaviours is lacking. In a series of studies comprising online and written surveys of Australian dog owners, this project aims to identify factors including attitudes, dog-owner relationship variables, and demographic characteristics, predicting management behaviours. These behaviours include confinement, registration, microchipping, desexing, participation in obedience training, regular socialisation with other people and dogs, regular vaccinations and veterinary check-ups, grooming, feeding a well balanced diet and the provision of regular exercise. It is anticipated that the results of these studies will provide important information for the development of education programs designed to promote responsible dog ownership.