Dog Handler Beliefs regarding Barriers and Facilitators to Canine Health Promotion and Injury Prevention in Swedish Working Dog Trials and Competitions
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Design
- How do you suggest that the SWDA can work to prevent injuries in sport and working dogs?
- What would you like the SWDA to consider for the future revision of the internal regulations of trials and competitions to promote increased health in sport and working dogs?
2.2. Participant Recruitment and Data Collection
2.3. Content Analysis
2.4. Ethical Considerations
3.1. Challenges in Applying the Regulations in Dog Trials and Competitions
3.1.1. Tasks during Trials and Competitions
“I feel the heavy dumbbells are too demanding for the dogs. In my case the dog is supposed to handle a 3 kg dumbbell while the dog itself only weighs 14 kg.” (R715)
“The dogs’ performance should be tested. I don’t think it should be made easier but also not expose them to unnecessary stress.” (R1284)
“Consider what simplifying the trial tasks can lead to in the long term, i.e., that if dogs are not able to handle being tested in physical and mental tasks to a sufficient degree it can over time lead to a ’weaker’ type of dog which will be more prone to injury and have less desire to work” (R1101)
3.1.2. The Trial Context
“Define hilly terrain more clearly. Some clubs interpret it as impassable terrain. This can lead to injury to the dog or handler.” (R1252)
3.1.3. Judges’ Interpretations
“Lower the jumps for working dogs or demand better surfaces. That the judges really score each dog according to its physical abilities is very important. A heavy dog should not have to be trained to act as a lighter dog just to get a higher score. There is a big difference between a 37 kg male boxer and a 20 kg Border Collie. Working breeds must have a reasonable chance to be competitive if we want to continue seeing them in trials.” (R1177)
3.1.4. Role of Other Officials
“More training and practice for Schutzhund decoys. Ideally less speed and more threat from the decoy to avoid collisions that are too powerful.” (R601)
3.2. Implementation of Animal Welfare and Canine Well-Being Approaches
3.2.1. The Dog Handler’s Responsibility
“The responsibility for the health and well-being of the dog must be with the owner and handler. We have to respect our teammates and best friends ” (R840)
“You see too many times how the dog is taken directly from the car/resting and is immediately put to work without a warmup period or put back in the car after training, there is a lot of ignorance regarding health/training. I think it is the handler’s responsibility to keep the dog in good condition before competitions, training etc. I think the competitions are well designed (I can only speak of the venues I am participating in) as far as not causing injury to the dog." (R1481)
“I think it is important to be observant to discover injured dogs/dogs that are not 100% and that are entering [the trial or competition]. Difficult, each owner is responsible for the care of their dog the best way they know in order to not cause injury. Maybe classes/seminars about this specifically.” (R1323)
“This is a breeder question rather than a rulebook question. A body built for the power and a dog who engage the brain before acting is of good help.” (R1351)
3.2.2. Organizer’s Integration
“To have additional recommendations for the responsible organizer regarding how to help dogs handle trials in different weather conditions, perhaps that trials can’t take place outdoors on icy grounds, and that water stations are available for field work etc.” (R1464)
“Use individual dumbbells to reduce the spread of contagious diseases, for example kennel cough.” (R1001)
“Encourage judges to excuse dogs who are not breathing properly” (R1107)
“No long down in groups with other dogs. I have gotten my second dog badly bitten by another dog in that exercise. Demand that the organizers not use slippery indoor flooring for the obedience exercises. I was recently forced to do just that at an obedience trial, the dogs had to run around a cone and take a jump on a slippery floor (just off the green mat that was on the premises).” (R1369)
“Harder disciplinary actions against dogs that cause problems on the long down in the lower levels (novice). Higher demands on the judges and officials to report these dogs.” (R1426)
3.2.3. Lack of Scientific Research
“Let knowledgeable veterinarians, and the statistics show what exercises cause most injuries. Change these exercises continually, as part of every revision of the rulebooks. The demands don’t need to be lowered, but the exercises should be adapted to fit dog ergonomics, to avoid future injuries.” (R820)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Challenges in applying the regulations in dog trials and competitions||Dog tasks during trials and competitions||Requirements in performance by the canine athlete|
|Stay in a group with other dogs|
|The trial context||Time between runs for messenger dogs|
|Need for definitions|
|Judges’ interpretations||Rewarding precision rather than speed|
|Considering individual characteristics|
|Role of other officials||Interaction with the dog|
|Implemention of animal welfare and canine well-being approaches||Handler’s responsibility||Knowledge, skills and attitudes|
|Breeding criteria and strategy|
|Organizer’s integration||Working safely in hot and humid environment|
|Prevention of the spreading of canine infectious disease|
|Practice authority to discontinue a dog during trial and competition|
|Doping in dog sports and training|
|Reporting unacceptable behavior|
|Pre-trial risk assessment of the forest terrain and surface|
|Facilitation of health promoting actions/interventions|
|Lack of scientific research||Documented risk during specific tasks|
|Normal physical changes in dogs|
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Essner, A.; Kjellerstedt, C.; Hesbach, A.L.; Svensson, K.; Igelström, H. Dog Handler Beliefs regarding Barriers and Facilitators to Canine Health Promotion and Injury Prevention in Swedish Working Dog Trials and Competitions. Vet. Sci. 2022, 9, 242. https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9050242
Essner A, Kjellerstedt C, Hesbach AL, Svensson K, Igelström H. Dog Handler Beliefs regarding Barriers and Facilitators to Canine Health Promotion and Injury Prevention in Swedish Working Dog Trials and Competitions. Veterinary Sciences. 2022; 9(5):242. https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9050242Chicago/Turabian Style
Essner, Ann, Catarina Kjellerstedt, Amie L. Hesbach, Kristina Svensson, and Helena Igelström. 2022. "Dog Handler Beliefs regarding Barriers and Facilitators to Canine Health Promotion and Injury Prevention in Swedish Working Dog Trials and Competitions" Veterinary Sciences 9, no. 5: 242. https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci9050242