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Research says that aggression in dogs involves complex factors

Last month we discussed a story regarding the risk of infection that can arise from a cat bite. That story came from research conducted by the Mayo Clinic, and found that many people bitten by a cat are hospitalized each year. But, we also noted that cat bites may pale when compared to the roughly 4.5 million people who are attacked by dogs each year.

New research from across the pond found that aggressiveness in dogs may not be only about the breed of the dog. The breed may be one factor of many that may help people in Massachusetts in understanding dog-bite issues. An advisor to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seems to have a similar take when he says that aggressive behavior in a dog is “going to be both situation-dependent and dependent on the history of both the people and the dog,” according to a Health Day News report carried in the Leaf Chronicle.

The recent British research says that in addition to the breed of the dog, the animal’s early socialization and training as a puppy can be a factor in whether the dog may later become aggressive. The style of training was also found to be a factor-- dogs that were trained with negative reinforcement and punishment were more likely to become aggressive, both toward strangers an family members.

Neutered male dogs were found to be more likely to be aggressive than females, whether spayed or not. Also, the age of the dog owner seemed to have some influence on whether the dog would be more likely to be aggressive; dogs with owners younger than 25-years-old were found to be more aggressive than dogs with owners who are age 40-years-or older.

While some dogs may attack without any history of prior violence, the research may help to shed light on the complexity of an animal attack. Many dog owners may be inclined to blame a victim after a dog attack. But, researchers say that the issue may be more about the dog and its owners.

The difficulty with dog bites goes far beyond the potential risk of infection that may follow an attack. Dogs can inflict serious damage to the human body, including broken bones, serious lacerations and even fatal injuries. A victim of a dog attack and their families can suffer harshly from the devastating injuries that a dog attack can inflict. Physical injury and emotional scars are possible results of a dog bite.

Source: The Leaf Chronicle, “Experts: Look to owner for clues a dog is aggressive,” Dennis Thompson-Health Day News, Mar. 2, 2014

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