Ineke van Herwijnen received her Master Nutrition and Health at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) with a specialization in health prevention in 2001. While working as a communication manager at a large multinational, she started her career in dog training and welfare, which led to her employment at the Dutch Royal Association for the Protection of Dogs, where she has been
director since 2009. Ineke has been educated as a dog trainer, tester and therapist and has extensive experience in the field of dog ownership and welfare.
Dog-owner parenting style interventions as means to strengthen the owner dog relationship and warrant dog welfare Parenting styles have been recognized and targeted to optimize parent-child relationships since the seventies and eighties. Parenting varies along dimensions of demandingness and responsiveness, translating into four main styles of authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved parenting. The authoritative style, high on both demandingness and responsiveness, associates with good child development and well-being.
Care given to children resembles pet care to certain degree. Many owners of dogs view their animal companion as child-like. Owner dog mutual gaze experiments seem to indicate that dogs tap into the human oxytocin system underlying social bonding and mother-child attachment also. This provides further argument for the similarities in interactions between parent-child and owner-dog. Presently, we run a PhD research project to, first, validate the assessment of parenting styles in the owner to dog relationship, with preliminary results supporting measurement validity. The second step is to test dog-owner parenting styles for associations with determinants of a dog’s quality of life, like the owner dog relationship (in both directions), dog sociability and optimism. An obvious third step is demonstrating the causality of dog-owner parenting style effects and
putting theory into practice by guiding owners towards the most effective way of parenting their dogs.
Constructing interventions for dog-owner parenting styles that optimize owner to dog interactions, along the lines of earlier intervention studies with caretakers of livestock species offer clear opportunities to improve the owner to dog relationship as well as dog quality of life.
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