Publication Date

Spring 4-2012


College of Arts and Sciences


Psychology: Clinical/Experimental

Primary Subject Area

Biology, Veterinary Science; Psychology, Behavioral


Dogs, misbehavior, owner perception, behavior modification


Other Psychology | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences



Owning a dog has many physiological and psychological advantages; however, dog behavior can manifest itself in a variety of negative ways, including aggression. Research suggested that genetics and environment might play a role in aggression. It was demonstrated that owners can affect their dogs’ behaviors. Owners can unwittingly condition or encourage their dogs to misbehave, whether through their inaccurate perceptions or misguided actions towards the dogs. Dog behavior specialists view owner education as the key to solving the communication barrier between human and canine. The present study’s purpose was to assess if this view was possible. The research question asked if owners who perceived to know about their dogs’ breed characteristics would have better behaved dogs than those who did not know. A survey scrutinized some owner factors, their perceptions of their dogs, and whether or not they thought a behavior therapist would be beneficial. The sample of rural participants generally believed their pets to be well behaved, and were not interested in a behavior therapist. However, there was a significant correlation between dog misbehavior and thinking that a behaviorist would be beneficial. There appeared to be no relationship between perceived knowledge and the amount of misbehavior.