Meet Dr. Jill & Dr. Leslie: All Your Pet Questions Answered
Dr. Jill Villarreal (left) lives and breathes all things pet. A doctor of Biology, Behavior and Neuroscience (with a certificate in Animal Behavior), Jill is Senior Manager of Pet Sensory & Perception Insights over at Big Heart Pet Brands.
Dr. Leslie Hancock-Monroe (right) has been a top veterinarian for 15 years, and currently heads up Big Heart Pet Brands’ Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Department.
Leslie and Jill have dedicated their careers to enriching the lives of America’s pets and pet parents. We caught up with them at Big Heart Pet Brands HQ in San Francisco to get the scoop on treats, dog myths and their favorite breeds.
Q: What’s the most common misconception you hear about dogs?
Lots of people think that most shelter dogs are abused, neglected, injured or ill. Indeed some are, but there are many healthy, well-socialized, loving dogs in shelters that would make wonderful companions.
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science found the top reasons for dog relinquishment to shelters are the owners are moving, the landlord doesn’t allow pets, or that there are too many pets in the home.
These dogs simply lose their homes and families and are searching for someone to love and care for them.
My favorite misconception is that dogs evolved from wolves. It’s a nice idea, but new studies suggest that it’s just not true. Both dogs and grey wolves share a common wolf-type ancestor that lived thousands of years ago.
Q: What’s your top tip for pet parents?
Reward good behavior with small tasty treats, verbal praise, petting or play.
During training, treats should be small, super tasty and given no longer than 3 seconds after the behavior you are rewarding (ideally while the dog is still performing the behavior).
Q: What’s your top tip for new dog parents?
Watch your dog’s reactions to new experiences, and gradually introduce them to things that may be new or challenging for them.
Establish a good relationship with your veterinary team. They’ll be there for you and do anything to help your family.
Q: What is your favorite dog breed?
I'm a huge sight hound fan—greyhounds, whippets, saluki, Afghans, Italian greyhounds, Scottish deerhounds and borzoi. They’re so intelligent and pensive, elegant and graceful. From watching them work and play to cuddling on the couch … I can't get enough of them!
My favorite has to be the 100% all-American mutt. Pure breeds are great too, but I‘m a sucker for a shaggy dog, with floppy ears, goofy grin and fun-loving personality!
Would you like Dr. Jill’s help with your dog’s behavior? Or have a question for Dr. Leslie? Tell us what’s on your mind in the comments section below.
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