Parents interact with children following specific styles, known to influence child development. These styles represent variations in the dimensions of demandingness and responsiveness, resulting in authoritarian, authoritative, permissive or uninvolved parenting.
Given the similarities in the parent to child and owner to dog relationships, we determined the extent to which parenting styles exist in the owner to dog relationship using the existing Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire for the parent-child relationship and an adapted version for dog owners.
Items on the parenting of children/dogs were rated for applicability on a five-point Likert scale by 518 Dutch dog owning parents. Principal Component Analyses grouped parenting propensities into styles, with some marked differences between the findings for children and dogs.
Dog-directed items grouped into an authoritarian-correction orientated style, incorporating variation in demandingness and focussing on correcting a dog for behaviour verbally/physically, and in two styles based on authoritative items.
An authoritative-intrinsic value orientated style reflected variation in mainly responsiveness and oriented on the assumed needs and emotions of the animal. A second authoritative-item based style, captured variations in demandingness and responsiveness. We labelled this style authoritative-training orientated, as it orientated on manners in teaching a dog how to behave in social situations.
Thus, we defined dog-directed parenting styles and constructed a Dog-Directed Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire along the lines of the existing theoretical framework on parenting styles.
We did not find a dog-directed parenting style of being permissive or uninvolved, which we attribute to a study population of devoted dog owners and our findings should be interpreted with this specific study population in mind.
We found evidence of dog-directed parenting styles and provide a fundament for determining their possible impact on the different aspects of a dog’s life.