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Open AccessReview

Improving the Welfare of Companion Dogs—Is Owner Education the Solution?

1
Animal Behaviour and Welfare Group, Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Dolberry Building, Langford BS40 5DU, UK
2
Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter, St Luke’s Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090662
Received: 1 August 2019 / Revised: 29 August 2019 / Accepted: 3 September 2019 / Published: 6 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Welfare of Cats and Dogs)
Vets, animal welfare charities, and researchers have frequently cited educating owners as a necessity for improving the welfare of companion dogs. The assumption that improving an owner’s knowledge through an education intervention subsequently results in improvements in the welfare of the dog appears reasonable. However, the complexity of dog welfare and dog ownership and the context in which these relationships occur is rapidly changing. Psychology has demonstrated that humans are complex, with values, attitudes, and beliefs influencing our behaviours as much as knowledge and understanding. Equally, the context in which we individuals and our dogs live is rapidly changing and responding to evolving societal and cultural norms. Therefore, we seek to understand education’s effectiveness as an approach to improving welfare through exploring and understanding these complexities, in conjunction with the relevant research from the disciplines of science education and communication. We argue that well designed and rigorously evaluated education interventions can play a part in the challenge of improving welfare, but that these may have limited scope, and welfare scientists could further consider extending cross-disciplinary, cross-boundary working, and research in order to improve the welfare of companion dogs. View Full-Text
Keywords: dog; education; owner; ownership practices; welfare dog; education; owner; ownership practices; welfare
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Philpotts, I.; Dillon, J.; Rooney, N. Improving the Welfare of Companion Dogs—Is Owner Education the Solution? Animals 2019, 9, 662.

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