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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2010;13(3):213-36. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2010.483871.

Dog obesity: can dog caregivers' (owners') feeding and exercise intentions and behaviors be predicted from attitudes?

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Animal Welfare Science Centre, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Australia.


Dog obesity is a common nutritional disorder affecting up to 40% of the companion animal (pet) dog population in Australia and other developed nations. A clear understanding of factors determining relevant caregiver (owner) behaviors underpins effective treatment for this disorder. The theory of planned behavior can be used to understand factors contributing to human behavior. This article describes research informed by this theory. The research examined relationships between owners' behavioral beliefs and barriers, normative beliefs and perceptions of control, owners' feeding and exercise behaviors toward their dogs, and the body condition scores (BCSs) of dogs. The study recruited a sample of 182 dog and owner dyads. The researcher independently assessed BCSs. Owners completed a questionnaire measuring relevant feeding and exercise beliefs and behaviors. This revealed significant correlations between many psychological variables and BCSs and between psychological variables and specific owner behaviors: for example, the relationship of low levels of intentions to feed appropriately to ambivalent beliefs toward feeding appropriately and low perceived control. Careful consideration of the specific variables identified will permit the development of more effective interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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