Living with behavioural problems – owners’ experiences

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Over the years I’ve seen the emotional and financial impact on owners who live with a pet that exhibits undesirable behaviours.

Whilst there is plenty of data relating to the welfare of pets with problems, there is little on the effect such problems may have on human-half of the relationship.  However, a recent paper by Buller and Ballantyne (2020) has investigated this area.  

Although the study had a small sample, the researchers found owners who reported having problems with their pets had to dedicate extra time for management and training.  They also had difficulty exercising their pet, and there were limitations on where they could go and who could visit their home.

The study also showed that the pet’s undesirable behaviour directly or indirectly affected household relationships and those with family and friends.

Despite this, owners reporting on a range of pet behaviour problems were found to have a strong bond with their animals.

Such studies show the significant impact pet behavioural problems can have on owners and the findings from this study echoes my professional experience.  However, whilst we have a wealth of information readily available to pet professionals about training dogs, there remains a lack of quality resources and strategies in relation to pet owners, when it comes to understanding their perspectives and in achieving successful human behaviour change.  

To read the study, see Living with and loving a pet with behavioral problems: Pet owners’ experiences – ScienceDirect

Kristin Buller, Kelly C. Ballantyne, Living with and loving a pet with behavioral problems: Pet owners’ experiences, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 37, 2020, Pages 41-47, ISSN 1558-7878,

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