The Study of Human-Animal Interactions The CAIRC Scholarship Program Summary of the Past Researches
Summary of the Past Scholarship Research
From "Letter from CAIRC" July 1999
Research Theme: "Research and Study of Problem Behavior of Dogs in Grooming Parlors"

By Yukiko Arakawa and Chiyo Kitagawa
At 22, Ms. Arakawa was the youngest of the scholarship recipients. At present she is a doctoral student in the graduate school of Azabu University. Her research partner, Ms. Kitagawa, is a dog groomer who, at the start of the research, was also a student at Azabu University. Their research involved a questionnaire survey of groomers nationwide, and a questionnaire survey of pet owners conducted through grooming parlors and pet shops. Of the questionnaires sent to groomers, 506, or 46%, were returned, while 403 completed questionnaires were received from pet owners. Until now, there has been almost no research on breed-specific behavior and the innate personalities of breeds. Research on the views of the people who work at the locations where the problem behavior of dogs actually occurs has also been lacking, and is urgently needed. As a forerunner of such research, Ms. Arakawa's efforts provide much cause for much hope.

"In this research," she said, "we classified the problem behavior of dogs in grooming parlors as either aggressive behavior, such as acting wildly and biting, or escapist behavior, such as cowering and fleeing. In all, 124 breeds of dogs were brought into the grooming parlors according to the data that we received. These included not only long-haired breeds requiring a specialist's skills, but also short-haired dogs, small dogs, large dogs, even mutts. Thus, different tacks are necessary for dealing with the different types of dogs. Generally speaking, problem behavior tended to be greater among males than among females, and adult dogs between the ages of two and eight were the most frequent sources of problem behavior. Also, as was expected, escapist behavior was most common among puppies, while aggressive behavior was generally the province of older dogs. According to the survey results, however, the biggest differences were between breeds. Within a breed, behavior changed little with age.

"Looking at the breeds individually, the Shih Tzu is the one that stands out above all, with a remarkably high 90% of these dogs exhibiting problem behavior. Of this behavior, 78% was aggressive, far more than with any other breed. Of course, what dogs dislike most in grooming is nail clipping, ear cleaning, and the removing of hair tangles, so dogs with long hair requiring the removal of tangles are the ones most likely to misbehave. On the other hand, a short-haired dog that often behaved aggressively was the shiba-ken. Actually, aggressive behavior was commonly seen in Japanese breeds in general. Japanese breeds seem to dislike grooming itself and, when it comes to something they dislike, tend not to listen to their owners.

"In both surveys, we found that groomers tend to blame owners for the problem behavior of dogs. In studying the problem behavior itself, however, we found that its causes lie far more often in the personality of the breed than in the training. On the other hand, we also found that while 20% of the dogs showed problem behavior, their owners frequently thought, "The way things are now is fine." While the owners viewed this behavior with the attitude that "a little mischievousness is cute," groomers considered it a serious problem. Owners, we believe, should try to reduce the problem behavior of their dogs. At the same time, though, it is necessary for owners and groomers to cooperate in determining how to deal with a particular dog according to its personality and breed.