Wednesday 19 December 2018

Dogs more likely to bite people who are 'anxious'

Dogs pick up on our behaviour. Stock picture
Dogs pick up on our behaviour. Stock picture

Sarah Knapton

Jittery postal workers who tentatively approach homes worried they could be bitten by the resident dog may be inviting an attack, a new study suggests.

In fact, adopting an unflappable self-confident swagger could be the best way to avoid a nasty nip. Researchers from the University of Liverpool discovered that people of an anxious disposition are far more likely to be bitten by dogs than people with more relaxed demeanours.

It is the first study to suggest that people's personalities can influence dog attacks.

For the research, 700 people in England were rated on their emotional stability on a scale of one to seven, and then questioned about whether they had been bitten.

Researchers found that every point increase in score between one and seven was associated with a 23pc decrease in the likelihood of a bite.

Dr Carri Westgarth, of the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, at Liverpool University, said: "Reporting being less emotionally stable was associated with an increased frequency of dog bites. Neuroticism is well known to be linked to public health behaviours and outcomes, perhaps then this aspect of personality may be linked to performing behaviours that provoke dog bites. Dog bite prevention schemes may need to target particular behaviours around dogs by different personality types."

The Kennel Club said dog behaviour was often driven by the way humans behaved themselves when in the presence of animals. "How dogs react to people is often determined by how people themselves react to dogs," said Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, "so it is important that people recognise the best ways to interact with dogs, and that owners always keep their pets under control and consider that not everyone may feel comfortable being around dogs, or know how to interact with them."

The research was published in the 'Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health'.

Irish Independent

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