Dog-directed parenting styles predict verbal and leash guidance in dog owners and owner-directed attention in dogs

Ineke R. van Herwijnen*, Joanne A.M. van der Borg, Marc Naguib, Bonne Beerda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Dog-directed parenting is an aspect of the owner-dog relationship that describes the overarching emotional sphere in which the dog's guidance and training take place. How dog-directed parenting styles express in specific owner-dog interactions is presently unknown. However, such knowledge can help to advise dog owners on appropriate parenting of their dog. Child-directed parenting is regarded appropriate when it is demanding for socially adaptive behaviour as well as responsive to the child's needs. This combination of high demandingness and responsiveness is known as authoritative parenting, which in dog-directed parenting manifests in two ways. Teaching the dog socially adaptive behaviour is key to the authoritative-training style (AUT) and being responsive to the dog's perceived needs and emotions is key to the authoritative-intrinsic style (AUI). A third dog-directed parenting style, the authoritarian-correction style (AUC), of high demandingness and low responsiveness focusses on correcting the dog's undesired behaviour. We determined these three dog-directed parenting styles by an online questionnaire and tested the styles for associations with owner and dog behaviours. The behaviours were scored as the owner-dog dyads walked a short course with distractions (treats and balls) that dogs should ignore (N = 40) or when they had a ten-minute break together (N = 36). Nine out of 49 behavioural observations, such as verbally praising or correcting the dog and leash tensions, related significantly (comparison-wise two-tailed P < 0.05) to the parenting styles and Spearman rank correlations explained up to 30 % of the variance. The self-report-based dog-directed parenting styles related logically to the way owners actually interacted with their dogs, verbally and by leash. AUI and AUT parenting related directly to verbally praising the dog. AUC parenting related directly to verbally correcting the dog and to leash tensions. Also, AUC parenting related inversely and AUT parenting directly to the dog frequently looking at its owner during the course with distractions. Thus, we find evidence that verbal communication and leash tensions are telling about dog-directed parenting styles and, possibly, constitute meaningful manifestations to address in educational interventions for dog owners. We see potential merit in moving AUC parenting dog owners away from leash-related guidance towards verbal praise-based guidance and a more authoritative dog-directed parenting style.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105131
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Dogs
  • Owner-dog relationship
  • Parenting styles


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