Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How common is aggression in UK dogs?

Date:
January 7, 2014
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
New research has estimated the prevalence of human-directed aggression in different situations, and examined the potential risk factors for dogs showing aggression towards people.

Aggressive dogs represent a serious risk to human health, tragically causing fatalities in rare cases. The development of aggression can also impact on a dog's welfare, because of a breakdown of the human-pet bond, euthanasia or relinquishment. New research has estimated the prevalence of human-directed aggression in different situations, and examined the potential risk factors for dogs showing aggression towards people.

The study, led by academics at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences and published online in Applied Animal behavior Science, investigated the occurrence of dog aggression towards people with a survey of UK dog owners.

Around 15,000 questionnaires were distributed to dog owners of which 4,000 were returned and used in the analysis. The researchers found that aggression towards unfamiliar people was reported more commonly by owners than aggression to family members.

Nearly seven per cent of owners responded that their dog barked, lunged, growled or actually bit when people came to the house, and five per cent reported these behaviors on meeting people when out on walks.

In contrast, about three per cent of dogs were suggested by owners to show aggressive behavior towards family members. The study highlighted that the majority of dogs showing aggression do so in just one of these situations. This indicates that the common tendency to categorise dogs as either generally 'safe' or 'vicious' is a misconception, and that most dogs show aggression as a learned response to particular situations.

Dr Rachel Casey, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal behavior and Welfare, said: "Dog owners and members of the public need to be aware that any dog could potentially show aggression if it is anxious or feels threatened, even when it has never done so before.

"On the other hand, dogs which have shown aggressive signs in one situation are not necessarily 'dangerous' when in other contexts -- an important consideration in the assessment of animals, such as in rehoming centres."

The study also compared the characteristics of those dogs reported to show aggression with those which had never done so. It was revealed that factors such as training classes attended, type of training method used, the sex and neuter status of dogs, the age category of owners, and the breed of dogs were all associated with the occurrence of aggression.

Interestingly, different risk factors were found to be significant in statistical models examining aggression to family members and unfamiliar people. This suggests that different factors are important in the development of aggressive signs depending on the situation.

The research also highlighted that although general characteristics, such as breed type, are significant risk factors across large populations they explain only a small amount of the overall difference between aggressive and non-aggressive dogs. This suggests that it is not appropriate to evaluate the risk of aggressive behavior in an individual dog using characteristics such as breed type.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rachel A. Casey, Bethany Loftus, Christine Bolster, Gemma J. Richards, Emily J. Blackwell. Human directed aggression in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): Occurrence in different contexts and risk factors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.12.003

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "How common is aggression in UK dogs?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107102810.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2014, January 7). How common is aggression in UK dogs?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107102810.htm
University of Bristol. "How common is aggression in UK dogs?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107102810.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins