Woman kissing her dog

Pets can bring joy and companionship, as well as financial worries, loss and logistical challenges. (Photo by Samson Katt from Pexels)

NEW YORK — How well do you know your beloved pooch? Nearly a third of dog owners claim they can immediately pick up on their pet’s different moods (28%), according to a new survey.

The poll of 2,000 dog owners finds that pet parents know when their dog is happy when they wag their tail (28%), jump on them (24%), or show them affection with cuddles or kisses (23%). Others say their pup loves being petted (21%) and has plenty of energy (20%) when they’re in a good mood.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ollie, the survey reveals that pet owners are used to their dog’s strange antics. Among the bizarre behaviors respondents listed: “trying to keep a neat environment,” “does a twirl when she’s begging for house food,” and “sneezes for treats.” A third of those polled would be concerned within a day or two if their pet started acting differently (31%).

Owners pay great attention to their dog’s behavior, as the average respondent worries they’ll lose their dog four times every year.

Four in five respondents who are also parents even claim their dog’s wellness is just as important as their child’s (81%). Pet parents know their dog is sad when they stop eating (24%), have low energy (23%), or whine or cry (22%). The average pup has exhibited even stranger “abnormal behavior” five times over the past year. One pet owner says their dog was “constantly licking elbows,” while another notes their companion “became lethargic and did not eat for a few days” and a third noticed their dog was “spinning around nonstop.”

1 in 3 dog owners keep notes on their pet’s behavior

Respondents keep a close eye on their furry friend’s behavior by keeping track of them with a journal or app (36%) and adjusting their diet to see if it’ll have an effect (31%).

Your dog is uniquely yours; no one knows their quirks the way you do! This puts you, the pet parent, in an incomparable position to quickly identify changes in your pup’s normal behavior,” says Nicole Sumner, senior brand manager at Ollie, in a statement. “These behavioral nuances could indicate something more serious.”

This prompts constant care for their pet’s wellness — even when it comes to sleeping. Respondents want to ensure their dog gets enough rest and do so by giving their dog a potty break before bed (39%), cuddle time before bed (37%), or a sleep supplement (34%).

Thirty-five percent even implement a bedtime/“lights out” time — by 9 p.m. for most dogs (69%). Pet parents also want to ensure their furry friend is rested enough to be active the next day, with a quarter of respondents saying they “always” take the time to be physical with their dog, no matter how tired they are from their day.

dog happiness

How do you keep your dog ‘entertained’ at dinner?

More than a third of owners also help their pup work up an appetite by exercising before meals (38%). Caring for their canine carries over to mealtime. Pet parents shared their tricks for getting their dog to eat like giving them a variety of foods (43%), having in-between snack times to keep them going throughout the day (43%), and stimulating their mind with puzzle feeder bowls (36%).

Owners see treat time as another way to care for their dog’s well-being by bonding and showing affection (50%), helping them manage stress or anxiety (46%), and boosting their nutrition (48%).

“Every dog is different, and every day contains slight deviations from the structure dogs crave,” Sumner says. “Dogs need a healthy mealtime and exercise routine to feel their best. We support pet parents and make it as easy as possible for them to give their dogs solid foundations for healthy lives.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 dog owners was commissioned by Ollie between Feb. 3 and Feb. 6, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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