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Animals : an open access journal from MDPI
Volume 13 | Issue 6 (March 2023)

"Do Your Homework as Your Heart Takes over When You Go Looking": Factors Associated with Pre-Acquisition Information-Seeking among Prospective UK Dog Owners.

Animals (Basel). March 2023;13(6):.
Rebecca Mead1, Katrina E Holland2, Rachel A Casey3, Melissa M Upjohn4, Robert M Christley5
1 Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, UK.; 2 Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, UK.; 3 Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, UK.; 4 Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, UK.; 5 Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, UK.


The factors influencing why and how people decide to acquire a dog are not well understood and little is known about the extent to which prospective owners undertake preparatory research. This study aimed to better understand what factors influence whether prospective dog owners in the UK conduct preparatory research. A 2019 online survey of current (n = 8050) and potential (n = 2884) dog owners collected quantitative and qualitative data. Additional qualitative data were collected through semi-structured interviews with current (n = 166) and potential (n = 10) dog owners. Of the current owners surveyed, 54% stated that they had looked for advice or information prior to acquiring their dog. Of potential owners, 68% reported already having looked for information, while a further 14% were planning to undertake research prior to acquiring a dog. Those with previous dog ownership experience were less likely to undertake pre-acquisition research, as were those who had worked with dogs. Demographic factors were also associated with the likelihood of conducting pre-acquisition research, with younger prospective owners being more likely to have undertaken research, as well as those with formal education qualifications. Among current owners, pre-acquisition research was more likely among those who acquired their dog through a breeder; a specific breed or a mix of two breeds; or as a puppy. Qualitative data were consistent with and added additional understanding and context to these findings. Almost half of current owners did not conduct pre-acquisition research, highlighting the need for increased awareness of its importance and the development of targeted interventions to encourage this activity. Understanding the different factors that influence whether dog owners undertake research may be of interest to animal welfare and veterinary organisations, in order to inform interventions to better prepare people for dog acquisition.

dog acquisition; dogs; pre-acquisition behaviours; pre-acquisition research; preparatory research;

Do Your Homework as Your Heart Takes over When You Go Looking": Factors Associated with Pre-Acquisition Information-Seeking among Prospective UK Dog Owners.">

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