The relationship between dog-directed parenting styles and overweight in dogs
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OBJECTIVE. The last decades, the number of overweight dogs is increasing. Since it is known that particular parenting styles, the authoritarian, the permissive and the uninvolved style, are related to a higher risk of developing overweight in children, a similar association could exist for dogs. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between original parenting styles or dog-directed parenting styles and overweight in dogs. In addition, the relation between (dog-directed) parenting styles and obedience and trainability of the dog was examined, because a direct relation was expected which could be useful to improve training programs and facilitate the training of dogs. METHODS. Questionnaires including items about parenting styles (PS) and obedience and trainability were completed by dog owners. Body condition score of the dogs was determined using the 9-point scale. Participants were classified in both original PS and dog-directed parenting styles (DDPS). Chi squared tests were applied to determine associations between (dog-directed) PS and overweight. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess a relationship between (dog-directed) PS and obedience and trainability. RESULTS. Using cross-tabulation and chi squared tests, it has been analysed whether there are any associations between the (dog-directed) parenting styles and dogs being overweight. It appears that there is a lower percentage of overweight in the mixed group than in the other groups. However, these differences are not significant. Independent t-tests revealed that the score of obedience and trainability was statistically significantly higher for the ‘AUI’ group (69,172 ± 13,656, p = 0,004) compared to the ‘AUN’ group (54,370 ± 17,195). Also the score for the ‘AUI’ group (69,172 ± 13,656, p = 0,023) was statistically significantly higher compared to the ‘AUT’ group (58,350 ± 16,545). There was no statistically significant difference between the other groups. CONCLUSIONS. In this research no unequivocal relationship is found between the different parenting styles and overweight in dogs. However, the researchers are aware of the fact that both parenting styles and obesity are complex phenomena which may be are influenced by other factors. As such, more research is needed. It has been shown that AUI leads to a better response regarding to obedience and trainability. These findings are relevant for improving training programs for dogs.