New Study To Examine Why Owners Surrender Dogs To Shelters

Lydia McNutt
by Lydia McNutt
Is incompatibility the main reason why people surrender their dogs? Researchers want to prove if dogs pick up on human behavior, in order to end to shelter over-population and euthanasia practices. Find out how you can help.

Why would anyone ever hand their pooch over to the pound? That’s exactly what the Center for Canine Behavior Studies (CCBS) is aiming to figure out through its voluntary Animal Ownership Interaction Study, which kicks off on June 15. But the bigger goal here is to identify the issues behind dog abandonment, address them, and stop the influx of pups that end up in shelters and too often, in the long line to be euthanized.

Related: Study Looks At Dogs Adopting Owners’ Personality

A sad stat

According to CCBS, a staggering 1.5 million dogs are put down every year in the animal shelter system in the United States alone. That’s just one figure for one country. But animal euthanasia is a global problem. CCBS wants to end this practice by learning more about how dogs and their owners interact.

The root of the problem

Your dog’s personality is probably the reason you love him so much. Unfortunately, behavior is also the top reason that pet owners turn their dogs over to animal shelters. It could be problems with aggression, separation anxiety, or what we perceive as simple incompatibility. But it’s not that simple. CCBS holds firm that “the relationship between a pet and a person is diadic.” To put it in layman’s terms, it takes two to tango – or in this case, to clash.

Related: Study Shows That Dogs Look Like Their Owners

They say some people look like their pets, but those similarities go much deeper than looks. Your behavior rubs off on your dog, so there’s a chance if your dog is displaying undesirable characteristics, they may actually be inadvertently caused by you. Proving this conclusion is the aim of the Animal Ownership Interaction Study.

The Animal Ownership Interaction Study

The study, led by CCBS’s Dr. Dodman and Dr. Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania, is the largest of its kind, examining how dog owners’ personalities and dogs’ behavior are related. It will span two years and cover the whole globe, including thousands of “citizen scientists” who will help explore the ins and outs of the human-canine bond.

Participants will be asked to answer 100 questions online (it’ll only take 30 minutes) and follow up every six months over the two-year term.

The results are expected to shed light on how human actions influence those of their pets. Better interaction between owners and dogs can mean better behavior, less shelter drop-offs and ultimately, fewer dogs being euthanized.

Get involved

The study is open to all dog owners and will kick off on June 15, 2015. Even if you don’t meet the criteria to take part, you can spread the word to other dog owners. More participants mean more answers to some big questions: how do we affect our pets and how can we better the bond? To register, to donate and for more information, visit the Center for Canine Behavior Studies’ official site.

Lydia McNutt is an award winning writer, editor, blogger and proud mama of three of the fur-babies: her two cats, Phoebe and Brewster (who think they are dogs,) and her 90-pound yellow lab, Fred – the biggest lap dog you’ll ever meet. When her head’s not in a cloud of fur, you’ll find Lydia chasing her toddler through the neighborhood, reading a good biography, or writing about… Well, you’ll just have to read more of Lydia’s articles to find out!

Lydia McNutt
Lydia McNutt

More by Lydia McNutt