Permissive parenting of the dog associates with dog overweight in a survey among 2,303 Dutch dog owners

Ineke R. van Herwijnen*, Ronald J. Corbee, Nienke Endenburg, Bonne Beerda, Joanne A.M. van der Borg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Overweight/obese dogs are at increased risk of health issues and it is up to the dog owner to uphold successful weight management. In children, overweight relates to their parent's permissive style of parenting. We predicted that permissive dog-directed parenting likewise associates with a dog being overweight (including obesity). If styles in parenting dogs indeed associate with a dog's overweight, these may provide action points for effective weight management. For 2,303 Dutch dog owners, answers on their dog's (nine-point scale) body condition scores were compared to ways of parenting the dog. We used an adapted version of the 32-item Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire and compared the distributions of dog counts across aggregated body condition score categories of underweight (scores one to three), healthy-weight (scores four and five) and overweight/obese (scores six to nine) with Chi-square tests across the quartiles of a given parenting style. Overweight/obese dogs were overrepresented in the quartile of dog owners with the highest level of permissive parenting, which is in line with findings on parenting styles and overweight/obesity in children. Supplementary logistic regression analyses on the likelihood of dogs being overweight/obese (i.e. having a body condition score of six or higher) confirmed the importance of parenting and identified the risk factors of dogs having little exercise, being of older age, neutered or owned by someone with lower level education. Our results indicate that strategies to promote proper weight management in dogs could benefit from addressing especially a dog owner's permissiveness in parenting his/her dog.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0237429
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2020


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