“It’s time he needs”: A qualitative analysis of behavioural problems in imported rescue dogs and their implications for the dog and owner

Alisha Murphy, Lisa Wallis, Louise Buckley, Carri Westgarth

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The number of overseas rescue dogs being imported into the UK has increased significantly in recent years. However, there is a lack of research into this phenomenon and implications for canine welfare and owner wellbeing. The aim of this study was to investigate the experience of adopting an imported dog in terms of behavioural problems exhibited after adoption and advice sought.
18 threads from 3 publicly available online forums were identified through searches and selected using purposeful sampling, in order to encompass a range of behaviours and contexts. A focus group was also conducted with behaviourists/trainers. Qualitative inductive coding using thematic analysis identified three main themes.
Main results/findings
The first theme was novelty, as some dogs were reported to encounter difficulties with new environments, objects or strangers. The second theme was autonomy, where some dogs found the lack of control over their new environment and ability to choose challenging, resulting in escape, difficulties being confined, and predatory behaviour. The final theme was owner expectations, where these often did not align with reality after the dog arrived. This was often felt to be due to the dog not being well-matched for the household or lifestyle, or displaying unexpected behaviours. The rescue organisation was perceived to have moral responsibilities to provide accurate information and pre-and post-adoption support. Owner patience in giving the dog time to adjust was also stressed.
Principal conclusions and implications for the field
The ability of imported rescue dogs to adjust to their new environment and lifestyle can lead to behavioural challenges, and owners can struggle if they were not expecting this or know how to deal with it. The impact of pre-and post-adoption knowledge and support requires further investigation in order to better understand these concerns and their implications for dog welfare and owner wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Feb 2023
EventInternational Society for Anthrozoology - John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Jun 202318 Jun 2023


ConferenceInternational Society for Anthrozoology
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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