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Being a dog owner is not always a walk in the park. Dog owners face significant challenges which are shared in the results of this Big Dog Mom survey.
How many times have you wondered if you are the ONLY dog owner struggling with a particular aspect of dog ownership?
You are not alone.
I have lost count how many times I have asked myself this very question. [READ: Life Lessons: What I Learned from an iPad, Flip Flops, and Two Big Dogs]
Whether it was during the linebacker-style tackling of my first mastiff to cut her nails, or my current dilemma of what to feed Junior, I have often wondered how many other dog owners struggle as much as I do.
You know the saying, ‘misery loves company.’
I disagree. I believe company wants solutions to their misery and they seek those answers by sharing their experience.
That is the purpose of my post today; to share the results of a survey of dog owners candidly sharing what challenges them most about dog ownership.
Big Dog Mom Survey of Dog Owners
We are going to start off this survey report with a BANG!
This report is based on 154 dog owners who currently share their home with a whopping 465 dogs. With an average of 3 dogs per home, the results of this survey are far from anecdotal. They are compelling and revealing.
I shared the link to the survey on Facebook and through other social media channels to dog owners of both large breed and small breed dogs.
Dog Ownership is Not Always a Walk in the Park
The fact that mental stimulation and behavioral training and food/nutrition ranked as high as they did are a testament to the fact that we know we don’t know all of the answers. We strive to provide a mentally stimulating environment for our dogs and training that will challenge and excite them, but are we doing enough?
Food and nutrition is a topic in and of itself that I have spent a great deal of time and energy on as it is a constant struggle for me too. Whether you are raw feeding, feeding kibble or a hybrid of commercial and fresh foods, you, like me, are always seeking to do better, know more, and provide the absolute best your money can buy for your dog.
The challenge for most of us comes when we hear reports like:
“FDA Alert – Grain-free foods may be linked to heart disease in pets.”
“XYZ Brand of dog food is being recalled due to XYZ pathogen.”
“High protein is good”
“High protein is bad”
With all of this, what is a dog owner to think or do but be left wondering what in the world to do? So it is not surprising to me that out of the 151 people who responded to this question, 47% said food and nutrition ranked first or second on their list of things that cause them the most stress.
And lastly, good old nail cutting. This is a subject that you know is near and dear to my heart. I have been
harping writing about cutting dog nails since I launched Big Dog Mom last year.
Read The Ultimate Guide to Cutting Dog Nails and my review of the Diamagroove Dremel bit for a taste of how I feel about long dog nails. I have focused on nail cutting because I know this is a very real challenge for a great many of you. This survey reveals how right I am to focus on cutting dog nails. 32% of respondents ranked nail cutting as their top source of stress and anxiety, and 45% ranked nail cutting first or second.
If you would include yourself in this 77% of dog owners who struggle with cutting their dog’s nails, then I welcome you into my online training course, Dog Nailpro. If you would like more information about it, click here to add your name to the waitlist for when I open the doors for enrollment.
Paid Services of Dog Owners
While quite a few of the overall respondents skipped this question, 112 people answered it. Not surprisingly dog training and dog sports ranked towards the top in popularity among dog owners. What I find interesting about this I will discuss in the next section, so keep reading.
A little over 47% of the respondents to this question report that they currently pay for regular dog grooming including a nail trim. Given the number of people who ranked nail cutting at the source of most of their stress and anxiety, I am curious to know how many also pay for grooming in order to get their dog’s nails cut. I could also see where people would rank nail cutting very low on their list of stresses simply because they are paying someone else to do it.
Perhaps these are questions for another survey in the future.
Dog Owners’ Challenges
Ok, I will be honest. I have gone back and forth on whether I should toss this question out. As I took note of the responses that were coming in, I quickly realized that the way I worded the question might have resulted in confusion.
What I meant to ask was when you think about the five challenges I listed (feeding, nail cutting, exercise, training, and calluses), which phrases or challenges most closely matched how you feel. I am not sure that is how some people interpreted the question, hence my internal debate on whether to publish the results or not.
That being said, I feel compelled to report the results as they stand in fairness to all who responded.
So here they are.
28% of respondents reported that they found the most stress and anxiety in deciding what to feed their dog given all of the conflicting information.
Coming in second place is nail cutting with 26% of dog owners stating that cutting their dog’s nails is one of the most stressful parts of owning a dog.
On the contrary, if I look at the challenges that rank either one or two for respondents, 54% said that they wish they could offer their dog more mentally stimulating activities to prevent boredom and increase his overall happiness. And in second place, with 48% of respondents, was the challenge of ensuring their dog was getting adequate physical exercise.
So, here is what I find very interesting about these data.
76% of respondents stated that they were currently paying for some type of dog training or dog sport class, yet both of these challenges rank among the highest for big dog owners when asked what they find the most stressful. Dog owners appear to be saying that while providing their dog exercise is not a challenge (Q2), and that they are willing to pay for structured opportunities for exercise (Q3), they continue to worry that it is not enough (Q4).
And as it relates to dog training, this is an area that is both a challenge (Q2) and a source of stress and anxiety for dog owners (Q4), despite 35% of dog owners paying for in-person dog training (Q3).
There is an undeniable link between a dog’s mental and physical health and his happiness. Dog owners want their dogs to live long, happy, healthy lives.
However, the subjectivity of the barometer confounds dog owners’ confidence they are doing all they can and should for their dogs.
And that leads me to ask the next question.
What are Dog Owners To Do?
While 56% of respondents said that despite the ranking in Q4, they either didn’t have an issue or felt that it was not significant enough to do anything about. 44% stated that their answer to Q4 was significant enough of a problem that they are either open to solutions or actively seeking a solution.
Investigating each of the individual responses further, I found the following very interesting.
I wanted to find out, of those people who were actively seeking a solution to the problem they ranked highest in Q4, what was the issue in question.
The results of that question are illustrated to the right.
Two-thirds of dog owners who are actively seeking a solution, are seeking it for either nutrition or nail cutting. While finding solutions for dog food and nutrition was seen as slightly more emergent, both of these issues cause dog owners stress and angst.
Dog Owners Answer Big Dog Mom Questions
The last few questions were entirely self-serving, but I’m hoping you will find them interesting enough to stick with me.
This question warms my heart.
Not only were 58% of respondents NEW to Big Dog Mom, but 42% were also people who are more regular readers and community members.
For both of these groups, I am eternally grateful!
Big Dog Mom Community for Dog Owners
While there were a significant number of respondents who had not yet subscribed to Big Dog Mom, 35% had either already subscribed or wanted to know how.
I am someone who subscribes to VERY FEW newsletters. Only those brands that make the Big Dog Mom shortlist make it to my inbox. I completely understand dog owners not wanting more email clogging up their already overflowing inbox of junk mail. I get it.
It is not my intention to sell you on why you should subscribe to Big Dog Mom if you haven’t already.
I strive to earn each and every subscription through quality content, valuable insight, and meaningful engagement on behalf of your big dogs. If that is not what you are getting from Big Dog Mom, then it makes sense not to subscribe.
If, however, you do enjoy and get value from the content you receive here, I would LOVE for you to join us in the Big Dog Mom Community today!
You will be welcomed with a warm heart and some very large paws. ?