Is your family dog an alarm clock, personal trainer or therapist?
Thinking of buying that house? Check with your four-legged family member first. According to the Dog Chow® Family Poll eight in 10 Canadian dog owners take their canine companions into account when making decisions about vacations, homes and car purchases. Even more, over half of current owners spend more time with their loved ones because they have a dog and the majority (85%) speak to their dogs like a full-fledged family member. And when it comes to finding the perfect role model, 40 per cent of Canadian owners look to their family dog – which comes as no surprise given their enthusiasm for life, unconditional love, unwavering loyalty, and their ability to easily forgive. With this new found status, are Canadian families going to the dogs? The answer is yes.
“It’s not surprising the Dog Chow Family Poll revealed that Canadians consider their dogs to be full-fledged family members, and treat them like anyone else in the pack,” says dog behaviourist and trainer Jill Priest. “The human-canine relationship has been evolving for thousands of years and continues to grow and change as dogs gain even more prominence within the family.”
Canadian Dog Owners Have Their Say
It may come as no surprise that as a nation many of us (73%) describe the family dog as a playmate, with this number increasing slightly for those with kids (76%). For more than three in ten (34%) owners, the family dog is considered a therapist, followed closely behind by alarm clock (26%) and personal trainer (22%). And for one in four in Quebec and Ontario dog owners, an alarm clock best describes their dog’s role, in comparison to Albertans and British Columbians (22% and 24% vs. 11% and 12%).
Sending a greeting card? For dog owners (current and past), signing for Fido is considered standard practice (45% and 35%). This is especially true for women (41%) and those in Atlantic Canada (41%) and British Columbia (39%). Even more, the family dog rules when Maritimers make decisions about where to live or cars to drive (87%) – and they are also more inclined to speak to their dogs like they are real people (85%). Not to be outdone, over half of Ontarians (53%) claim they spend more time with family because of their family dog, compared to Manitoba / Saskatchewan and Quebec (34% and 36%).
“Whether it’s the daily routine or special events, it’s clear that dogs play a variety of important roles that impact our lives,” says Jill. “But as the family dog gains prominence our responsibility to provide him with the skills he needs to function within the home – and in public – increases. Whether it’s training, feeding or just heading out for the daily walk, successful dog care is a family affair.”
Working closely with the experts at Dog Chow, Jill has created some easy tips to help Canadian families make the most out of their canine relationships – just in time for Family Day and March Break.
· Leaders Not Littermates: Children should take on smaller tasks such as feeding, positive treat training and walking the dog to ensure the family dog understands his position in the pack
· Consistency is Key: And when it comes to timing for feeding, exercise and discipline, getting on the same page as an entire family is a great way to bring everyone together and assign responsibilities.
o Encourage everyone to feed the family dog at the same time every day and make sure they know the right amount of food to serve up. According to Priest, a trusted kibble such as Dog Chow ensures complete nutrition for the family dog no matter who is in charge.
· The Changing Face of the Canadian Family: Preparing furry family members in advance of big adjustments requires everyone to work together. If change is on the horizon, whether it’s a new baby or a new house, Jill recommends the following:
o Stay on Schedules – fluctuating timing for walks and feeding can throw your dog off and create anxiety. Try to keep regular schedules to reduce furry worry.
o Build Familiarity with Surroundings – try walking the family dog in your new neighbourhood in advance of a move. Or, if a baby’s on the way, introduce him children of friends and family so he understands what is expected.
o Socializing with Smells – dogs can be led by the nose! If there are new family members joining the fold (human or canine), bring in items like clothes or toys and let your family dog get used to the new smells.
o Everyone Plays a Part – no matter who is in the pack everyone should have a role and take time to interact with the family dog. This will ensure he is comfortable and happy no matter what life brings.
“Life is truly better with our furry family members,” says Jill. “By working together as a family we can ensure our dogs are comfortable and happy no matter what life brings.”