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Ian Seath has again stimulated our 'little grey cells' and maybe even touched on some emotions, attitudes, and even deep-seated beliefs in his DOG-ED: SOCIAL ENTERPRISE post (23 June 2020): CULTURE EATS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST! Catchy title - firstly - where does that come from, and what does it mean? "Management Guru Peter Drucker famously stated that culture eats strategy for breakfast. So, What does "culture eats strategy" mean for you and your organization? In a very practical sense: No matter what business strategy or strategic plan you try to implement with your team, its success and efficacy are going to be held back by the people implementing the plan if the culture does not support it. " from: SME Strategy Management Consulting Ian's article draws on his extensive knowledge and background in business, strategy, and change management - as well as his fantastic dog expertise - to examine topical international information on COVID-19 and to draw comparisons with challenges in the dog world. He wants to encourage us to think about various aspects of health and welfare in dogs. Further moving his title discussion into the dog world: it means that if those needed to implement and drive change (in attitudes or practices) aren't passionate about the change or at least willing to embrace change or - even worse - if they deny the need for change at all (i.e. deny the existence of 'a problem') or are apathetic to the issues, then you stand no chance implementing a plan. Ultimately it is all about the people. Denial or apathy or resistance to change may occur if there is great passion for and attachment to an existing culture. In terms of the complex problems of the dog world, IPFD exists because it is clear that these issues have many stakeholders who bear responsibilities for the challenges and the solutions. And each of the stakeholder communities has their own culture - and that influences their views and actions and even willingness to collaborate. Ian goes on to describe bench-marking, i.e., ways to define, measure and characterize issues and actions on 3 levels. Let's further describe this relative to the dog world, and with a few possible examples: Metrics (statistics, measures) - tell you “what the performance is” or define and quantify aspects of the issue. E.g., prevalence and increased breed-specific risks of disease in various populations based on quantitative analysis vs. anecdote from personal experience (e.g. MY dogs are healthy!) Challenges: differences across regions, types of dogs, etc.; lack of consensus on how much is too much; perspectives of those who see dogs from different populations - e.g. veterinarians in practice vs. show judges. Lack of comprehensive, clear evidence fosters a reliance on culture-based interpretations...spin! Process (how the situation came to be, or what has influenced those levels): E.g. the influences of breeding practices (how diligently have breeders prioritized health and longevity). It must be noted that these processes have certainly been driven by culture. E.g., breeding for performance vs. for the conformation show ring vs. for companion dogs vs. for the trendy puppy trade E.g. health programs implemented by breed and kennel clubs (Ian gives some good examples) Challenges - the perception of the need for and time frame of change; and the amount of change; the acceptance of any authority over practices and processes from within or outside a community or culture. There is a tendency to look for simple solutions to complex problems - and then to be surprised that the outcome wasn't ideal. Culture tells you the story behind the processes...and that includes attitudes, tradition, beliefs, and habits...of the people involved. Those within a community (e.g. show world, veterinarians, the wider public) may share one culture...or there may be various cultures within a wider community. Culture can change. There are many cultures and communities in the dog world! From those who believe pedigreed dogs are the most important and breed standards are essentially inviolable; to those who feel there is room for evolution and flexibility, even within existing registries; to those who feel pedigreed dogs are not necessary. From those whose culture defines dogs as commodities or chattels; to those who accept dogs as sentient beings with some rights; to those who think they should be essentially be accorded human-level treatment. Challenges - all those attitudes impact what that community, culture, or group accepts as reasonable levels of welfare or disease or longevity. In fact, when cultural influences are strong, they may impact the willingness of those inside the culture to objectively view metrics, or to embrace processes and programs. And let's face it - a group or individual's attachment to their culture may be so strong, that they tend to view it not as one view, but the only acceptable view. 'Cultural norms' may be very different across communities. Rigidity is a major barrier to collaboration. Keys to moving forward Firstly, reflecting sincerely on how YOUR culture influences you, and then, if you want others to respect your culture Being aware of the differences across stakeholders - in their culture (attitudes, attachments, basic beliefs, approaches, etc.) wouldn't if be great if we could respect all views? but at least we must be aware of whether our disagreements are arising from different interpretation of the metrics and evidence OR from a different approach and process OR from the cultural sphere Taking the brave step outside cultural influences - embrace collaboration and collective actions while never assuming there is a one-size-fits-all solution. Leadership from various cultures and communities is needed. The ultimate question is - do we have common ground on which to advance? For IPFD, that would mean that even if we have slightly different definitions on the specifics, everyone comes to the table with a desire to enhance the health and welfare of dogs. Human aspects are critical as well - but there must be a balance.
For some time, pet obesity has been recognized as a crucial, widespread issue that impacts the health, welfare, and lifespan of dogs. Earlier in 2019, following the 4th IDHW, IPFD endorsed the Global Pet Obesity Initiative Position Statement, joining 24 International Veterinary Professional Organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association Board of Directors, British Small Animal Veterinary Association, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, World Small Animal Veterinary Association, among others. Pet obesity is a studied health and welfare issue that is, presumably, quite straightforward... and under control of owners to fix. However, as for issues around human obesity, in reality the situation can be more complicated; and recent studies have examined some of the complexities, for people and their pets. An IPFD collaborator, Prof. Peter Sandoe (University of Copenhagen), and others published a paper in 2014 on Canine and feline obesity: A One Health perspective that offers a broad coverage of the problem, why it is important, how the Human-Animal Bond impacts challenges, and, importantly, "Why we should care". From the article: "Recent years have seen a drastic increase in the rates of overweight and obesity among people living in some developed nations. There has also been increased concern over obesity in companion animals. In the latest article in Veterinary Record's series on One Health, Peter Sandøe and colleagues argue that the relationship between obesity in people and in companion animals is closer and more complex than previously thought, and that obesity should be treated as a One Health problem." Below, under Recent Research you will find articles that address specific challenges, including perception of obesity and inaccurate assessment of body conditions score (as a measure of obesity). The evolution of obesity: from evolutionary advantage to a disease describes the historical perspectives and the current situation: "Obesity as a disease was first described by Hippocrates" ... and ... "in 1920’s the Insurance Companies, in 1948 World Health Organisation and in 2013 both American Medical Association and The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and The Obesity Society recognized obesity as a disease." As described above, this approach has also been taken in the veterinary world. These acknowledgements are made with the goal of facilitating treatment, promoting research, and with an aim to curb this growing health and public health problem. Obesity can cause or worsen many health conditions, and the risk is enhanced for certain breeds and types of pets. Brachycephalic (flat-faced pets), already challenged in terms of respiratory function and heat regulation, are further compromised if overweight. This can be viewed as not only a health problem, but also as a welfare problem - but many owners remain unaware. See, e.g. Owners' perception of 'responsible dog ownership in our Blogs section. Veterinarians can offer clients sound advice for management of their pet to optimize health. Here, we'll feature work done by IPFD's collaborators as well as provide links to industry reports, research and educational tool kits which have been developed to assist owners and veterinary practices. Check out articles, surveys and other important info at the Global Pet Obesity Initiative's website + see the 2019 Pet Owner Survey - An opportunity to contribute! US Residents: would you like to participate in ongoing research into obesity? The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is conducting the 12th Annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey This survey was opened to US residents on October 9, 2019. To participate, sign up here. Veterinary practice/clinic participation in this organization's 2020 pet weight data collection survey next October is sought as well.