Study 3 –The Effectiveness of Pet Professional and Treatment Methodologies for Behavior Problems

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

Data is Under Analysis


Lead - Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, Tufts Cummings

Ian Dinwoodie

Barbara Dwyer

Donna Gleason

Vivian Zottola

Study Design: This study builds on Study 2, Demographics and Comorbidity of Behavior Problems in Dogs. This study looks at how owners addressed existing canine behavior problems. For those owners who sought help, we asked which canine professionals, the professionals’ qualifications, and methodologies, e.g., behavior modification, training, medication, were or are utilized. Then, we asked if the owners were able to implement and follow through with the recommended treatment, management, and/or training protocols. Finally, owners rated the success or failure of treatment for each type of problem.

​​From the information collected in Study 3, the Center hopes to be in a unique position to rank—in a highly specific way—improvement that can be anticipated for certain behavior problems when help is solicited from various advisory resources. For example, if aggression was the issue, is it best to start with a dog trainer or go directly to a behaviorist?

Study 3 may help owners and veterinarians determine which course of treatment works best and what type of professional to seek.

Participating Dog Owners: Study 3 participants are a subset of the 4,650 respondents in Study 2 from the USA, Canada, and the UK. The Study 3 participants were those from Study 2 who indicated that their dog had or has a behavior problem.

Study Expectations: Learning which programs and techniques work best for the various behavior problems will save dog owners from wasting time and money with unnecessary, ineffective, or counterproductive interventions. Based on factual evidence from the studies, the Center expects to be able to say, that, for example, if a certain style of leadership enhancement program works well when addressing owner-directed aggression, or whether behavior modification (with or without medication) is effective in dealing with canine compulsive behaviors. We may know with some level of confidence if, for example, systematic desensitization does or doesn’t work to treat fear aggression or storm phobia. Although desensitization works, it may be too time consuming and operator dependent for owners to follow through with implementation.

Whatever the findings, investigators expect to more accurately determine the most effective course of action for rehabilitation of dogs with behavioral issues either in their home or a shelter. It enables those working with these dogs to more effectively manage and/or correct behavior problems saving time and money that might be wasted on less successful or unsuccessful interventions.

Further, shelters and rescues may be able to identify groups of dogs that can be rehabilitated in a given period of time. For instance, if resource guarding rehabilitation programs are highly successful with only two weeks of staff work, it could increase adoptability and reduce recidivism. They could better train staff in specific, effective methodologies for consistency and enhanced learning. If customized programs are effective in a specified pe