Dog’s size affects owners’ behaviour and attitude during dog walking
The aim of this study was to evaluate if dog’s size affects owners’ behavior and attitude during dog walking. Owners completed a questionnaire on personal information about dogs, and owners’ behavior and attitude towards the intraspecific socialisation of their own dog. Two hundred and forty adult dogs of different breeds, balanced for sex, got involved in this study. Dogs were assigned to one of three groups depending on the size of animal: first group, small dogs = less than 10 kg, second group and medium dogs = between 10 and 20 kg, third group, large dogs = over 20 kg. Chi-square test was used to identify whether owners of dogs belonging to different size groups (small, medium and large) had a different attitude or behavior towards their own dogs. The owners of the three groups of dogs, while walking their own dog, behaved differently when meeting a small unfamiliar dog (p=0.022) or a large unfamiliar dog (p=0.049). In owners’ opinion, small dogs represented the size group who was more fearful of both smaller (p=0.062) and larger dogs (p<0.001). Owners of small dogs were those who less frequently allowed their dogs to play unleashed with other dogs (p=0.002) and more frequently believed that their dogs did not need to socialise with other dogs (p=0.002).
In summary, when meeting another dog, dog owners behaved very differently one from the other according to the size of the owned dog. According to these results, behaviorists should emphasize the importance of intraspecific socialisation to people who own or are going to acquire a small dog.