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My dog, my beach! Attitudes towards dog management on Victorian beaches
journal contributionposted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Suzanne Guinness, G S Maguire, Kelly MillerKelly Miller, Mike WestonMike Weston
Controversy surrounds domestic dog Canis familiaris access to beaches in much of the developed world, where achieving a balance between dog walking and nature conservation, and establishing reasonable compliance with regulations, appear to be highly challenging. We surveyed 434 people who take dogs onto beaches (in coastal central Victoria, Australia), to characterise their use of beaches and attitudes to regulatory controls. Four factors characterised attitudinal dimensions: (1) compliance and support for rules and regulations, (2) perceived dog behaviour and control, (3) rights of dogs and (4) value of dogs compared with wildlife. We hypothesised that residents and non-residents may differ in their attitudes toward dog walking on beaches, and this may also be influenced by their age and sex. Attitudes were broadly similar although slight differences were apparent: residents aged 35–49 years were less supportive of rules and regulations, those aged 18–24 years agreed more strongly that leashing effectively controlled dogs. Males, regardless of their age or residency status, expressed stronger beliefs that dogs were more important than wildlife. This study reveals complex demographic correlates with attitudes to dog walking on beaches, which reveals key stakeholder groups for awareness and education activities.