Source: martinalonso4895, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Virtually all dog owners recognize that it is important to have a dog with some level of obedience just to maintain the owner’s sanity and to avoid being kicked out of their neighborhood for having an irritable, irritable dog. problems. However, there is not a lot of information available on the quality of dog training and their level of obedience. Therefore, I found a new survey conducted by OneVet (a service that provides access to vets and veterinary services) useful and informative.
As such surveys go, this one was rather large since it involved over 3,100 U.S. pet owners with at least 50 respondents from each state.
Can You Trust Your Dog Off Leash?
A consensus among dog trainers has always been that the best clue to the quality of a dog’s training can be measured by that dog’s behavior when off a leash and not. therefore not subject to immediate correction and control by its owner. To see how well dogs in the United States are doing, their owners were asked, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how comfortable do you feel with your dog off the leash in public?” (Where 1 = not comfortable and 5 = very comfortable). “
It turns out that an individual’s level of comfort with their off-leash dog depends on the age of the dog owner. For baby boomers (57 to 75), almost half (48%) are uncomfortable with their dog off leash, while those of Gen X (41 to 56) are just one just a little better (45% not being comfortable). Things improve a bit with young dog owners, however, it is still true that around 1 in 3 (32%) of Millennials (25-40) are uncomfortable and 1 in 4 (25 %) of people in Generation Z (9 to 24 years old) are uncomfortable when their dog is not firmly attached to them by their leash. This is not a very high level of confidence in their dog’s obedience, as it shows that about a quarter to half of all dog owners feel their dog is not reliable enough to be left without leaves when surrounded by other people. In fact, 1 in 3 dog owners (33%) say they cannot take their dog to dog parks or restaurants due to obedience issues. Additionally, nearly one in five American Gen Z dog owners say their dog’s bad behavior made them reconsider their commitment to adopt another dog.
How are dogs trained?
The discomfort with their dogs’ level of obedience is apparently not completely due to a lack of effort in training their dogs. In this study, 67% of dog owners said they started training their dog when they were less than one year old. In contrast, when it comes to formal obedience training, it turns out that only 1 in 5 (20%) said they had enrolled their dog in training courses.
The training methods used vary, but by far the most popular training technique is to use food as a positive reinforcement of good behavior (38.3%). Only 6.3% of owners linked these rewards to using a clicker. The use of a shock collar was rare (only 4%) and the use of a claw collar was about the same (3.8%). In this study, 11.9% had used a halter, like Gentle Leader.
This survey revealed that 16.3% of owners used a dog crate as part of their training and that problems with use were rare (only 2.6%).
Unsurprisingly, 57% of dog owners report that their dogs are more obedient in the home than in public.
What are the biggest challenges in training family dogs?
The survey also broke down the specific challenges dog owners faced when training their dogs. These involved both issues experienced by the owner, as well as issues displayed by the dogs.
Starting with the canine side, I was quite surprised to find that the break-in was not as problematic as I expected since it was only listed as a major problem by 6.65% of respondents. Instead, separation anxiety overtook dog behavior problems (14.4%), and socialization problems were almost as severe at 12.7%.
For those doing the training, more than one in five (21.6%) felt that their consistency in training was a problem. Getting other family members to cooperate was a problem in 10.6% of families, and almost an equal number (10.1%) complained of their own impatience for the dog to interfere with their training. A full list of what survey respondents reported as their biggest challenges in training their dogs can be seen in the table below.
Source: Courtesy of OneVet
An additional note: the survey also listed the states in the United States that reported the most and least obedient dogs. The most obedient dogs (according to their owners’ ratings), starting at the top and working their way down, were: Florida, Utah, Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, while the least obedient dogs (starting at the bottom and moving up) came from Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
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