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Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems

Abstract

A case-control study was designed to test whether there is an association between the owners seeing the mother of a puppy, and later development of behavioural problems. The sample consisted of dogs that were seen by animal behaviourists (members of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors) and equivalent dogs (without a behavioural problem, but the owners would consider referral to an animal behaviourist were the dog to develop a behavioural problem) seen at a veterinary practice that referred to each animal behaviourist. After adjustment for confounding factors using multivariable logistic regression, case dogs were more likely to be younger than controls (P < 0.001); less likely to be obtained at six (OR = 0.27, 95 per cent CI = 0.09 to 0.85, P = 0.03), nine (OR = 0.22, 95 per cent CI = 0.06 to 0.80, P = 0.02) or 10 weeks (OR = 0.35, 95 per cent CI = 0.12 to 1.01, P = 0.05), than eight weeks; more likely for the owner to have seen only one parent (OR = 2.49, 95 per cent CI = 1.15 to 5.37, P = 0.02) than both parents, and more likely to have not seen either parent (OR = 3.82, 95 per cent CI = 1.12 to 12.97, P = 0.03) than both. Advice to ‘see the mother’ has been shown to be partly scientifically accurate in relation to future unwanted behavioural problems among dogs; in fact, it may be better for prospective owners to be recommended to view both parents.

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