17 May 2021
Comparing Behavioural Problems in Imported Street Dogs and Domestically Reared Danish Dogs
By N. P. B., A. ,
Ownerless dogs are common in parts of Southern and Eastern Europe. Some so-called street dog organisations sell them on to buyers in North European countries such as Denmark—typically via local shelters. However, with their background, the dogs may struggle to adapt to their new life as companion animals. Behavioural problems may ensue, affecting the dogs’ welfare and also presenting difficulties for the new owners. The study reported here investigated whether former street dogs imported into Denmark display more behavioural problems than dogs reared in Denmark. We examined responses to two surveys, one of Danish dog owners and one of Danish veterinarians. Our analysis appeared to confirm that street dogs display behavioural problems to a higher degree than dogs reared in Denmark. Behaviours associated with fear, stress and aggression were especially common. The extent of the behavioural problems reported by the veterinarians was greater than that reported by the dog owners, most of whom reported low levels of problems. This may be due, at least partly, to stress reactions in dogs handled by veterinarians.
Street dogs are common in southern and eastern parts of Europe. They are often adopted by people living in North European countries, including Denmark. However, these dogs may experience difficulties adjusting to their new life as companion animals, and this may in turn lead to behavioural problems and complications for owners. The objective of this study was therefore to investigate whether former street (FS) dogs display a higher degree of behavioural problems than dogs reared in Denmark (RD). Two questionnaires were developed. One was distributed to Danish dog owners and resulted in 3020 useful answers. FS dogs were found to display 9 of the 45 listed behaviours more often than RD dogs. All of these behaviours were related to fear, aggression and stress. The second questionnaire was distributed to Danish veterinarians working in small animal practices and resulted in 173 useful answers. The most commonly reported behavioural problems were fear of humans, stress and problems when the dog was left at home alone. The extent of the behavioural problems reported by the veterinarians was much greater than that reported by the dog owners which, at least partly, may be due to fear-induced reactions of the dogs when handled at the veterinary clinic.