Press release

Parenting styles of dog owners focus on correcting, emotion or trainability of the dog

Published on
February 27, 2018

Dog owners raise their dog in a way that is similar to the upbringing of children. Starting points for the parenting style used, differ between dog owners, according to research by the Behavioral Ecology chair group at Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The researchers questioned more than 500 dog-owning parents and found three parenting styles, based on correcting, emotion or trainability of the dog. This knowledge can help to optimize the upbringing of dogs and prevent unwanted behavior.

Child-oriented parenting styles have been studied since the seventies in order to achieve an optimal education for the child. An optimal parenting style increases the chances of a happy and successful child. Research into dog-oriented parenting styles can therefore possibly give starting points to optimize the upbringing of dogs and improve dog welfare. An optimal upbringing can prevent undesirable behavior and prevent the passage to the shelter.

Correcting, emotion or trainability

Three parenting styles emerged from the study. The first style focuses on correcting undesirable behavior. These dog owners, for example, use a corrective tap if the dog shows undesirable behavior. In the style in which the emotions of the dog are the starting point, dog owners, for example, take into account preferences of the dog or comfort the dog when it is upset. In the last style, which focuses on the trainability of the dog, the focus is on learning how to deal with social situations. These dog owners learn desired behavior step by step and, for example, offer a reward if the dog really needs to do something.

Application at dog schools

"It is strange to see that little research has been done on which starting points dog owners use to bring up their dog", says researcher Ineke van Herwijnen. "While such a starting point may be the base of a range of decisions about upbringing: whether or not to work with reward or punishment, for example. More attention for the way in which dog owners raise their dog and the goals they have in mind, gives new possibilities to offer them knowledge and skills in an appropriate manner, for example at dog schools. " Examining dog-oriented parenting styles can therefore provide new tools to optimize living together with dogs. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is currently investigating the influence of dog-oriented parenting styles on undesirable dog behavior, the bond between dog and owner and the quality of life of the dog.