Behavior / Dogs / Welfare

Meet the Parents

Many professionals in the animal world recommend that people looking for a new puppy meet one or both parents before taking a pup home.

It’s thought that meeting the parents will give owners a better idea of the pup’s potential future health and behavior.  This often has the added benefit of owners being able to see where the puppy is coming from (another important and often-overlooked factor!).

A paper has recently been published by the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) stating that the owners of dogs who were seen by behaviorists for behavior problems were less likely to have met one or both parents than owners whose dogs were not seen for behavior problems.  The authors conclude that, “Advice to ‘see the mother’ has been shown to be partly scientifically accurate in relation to future unwanted behavioural problems among dogs; in fact, it may be better for prospective owners to be recommended to view both parents.”

Of course, correlation between these factors doesn’t mean that causation has also been determined, but this is a great start to investigating the issue further!  And it’s certainly one that deserves it.

There are lots of factors that may also play a role in the relationship between meeting puppy parents and later behavior problems.  Some interesting related questions to ponder/investigate…

  • Are people generally aware of the need for puppy socialization?
  • Are people able to readily identify fearful/aggressive behavior in dogs?  How might this affect their judgement when meeting puppy parents?

A Small Survey…

This issue is of particular interest to me.  In 2007, as an undergraduate, I conducted a survey (n=79) in Western Massachusetts for new dog owners (dogs obtained within previous 2 years) with my academic supervisor, a local professor and veterinarian.  We found that…

  • Of those who bought from breeders, only 37% met a parent (n=46)
  • Half didn’t meet their puppy before taking them home (n=79)
  • Half didn’t see the environment their puppy came from (n=79)
  • Over half got their dogs from out of state (May play a role in why so many didn’t visit or meet before…) (n=79)
These results were surprising and highlighted the need for better public education.  A few years later, I assisted the same veterinarian in her creation of PupQuest, with a goal of doing just that!   You can see some more stats from the above-mentioned survey here.

Your Thoughts

What do you make of all this?

What questions would you most like to see addressed in future research?

Anecdotes welcome!  (Anecdote can inspire future research, after all.)

Let us know in the comments!


Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems.  C. Westgarth, K. Reevell, R. Barclay.  Veterinary Record vetrec-2011-100138 Published Online First:  doi:10.1136/vr.100138.


Something to bark about? Leave a comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s