Are you looking to avoid behavior problems with your dogs? Don’t get them from a pet store. That’s sound advice for a number of reasons, but it’s also backed by a new study from the University of Pennsylvania.
Researchers from U Penn have found evidence that pet store puppies have a higher risk for behavioral problems once they reach adulthood.
The research paper, published in the May 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, was a collaboration between researchers at the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine, Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, and the University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College.
The Penn team also worked together on a similar study in 2011 which saw bigger psychological problems in adult dogs that were rescued from commercial breeding facilities, better known as puppy mills.
Since most puppies in pet stores are obtained from puppy mills, researcher Frank McMillan wanted to see if they saw the same behavioral issues. They measured 14 behavioral variables and the pet store dogs were worse in 12 of them and only matched other dogs in the remaining two (rather than exhibiting better behavior).
“The results are pretty dramatic,” said McMillian. “The problems span so many different types of behaviors, and the differences are rather extreme for some of the behaviors.”
For instance, pet store dogs were at higher risk for being aggressive toward their owners and other dogs. The reasons for bad behavior are fairly logical and parallel to what you might expect from similar scenarios in humans. That is, if a child is brought up in a high stress environment, they just might end up having long-lasting psychological issues.
Puppy mill and pet store dogs are not properly socialized and live a hectic and disruptive early life. Earlier research has suggested that stressful pregnancies for the mothers lead to psychological issues for her offspring. The stress may play a role in improper fetal brain development.
(image by David Fisher via Wikimedia Commons)