Dogs’ aggressive behavior towards humans is often caused by fear – sciencedaily

A study of some 9,000 dogs at the University of Helsinki found that fear, age, breed, companionship of other members of the same species, and the owner’s previous experience with dogs were associated aggressive behavior towards humans. The results can potentially provide tools to understand and prevent aggressive behavior.

Aggressive behaviors in dogs can include growling, barking, clicking and biting. These gestures are part of normal canine communication, and they also occur in non-aggressive situations, such as during play. However, aggressive behavior can be excessive, making the dog a threat to the health of humans and other animals.

“It is important to understand the factors underlying aggressive behavior. Under what types of circumstances does aggressive behavior occur and what is the dog’s motive for such behavior? In normal family dogs, behavior aggressive is often undesirable, while some dogs having At the same time, aggression can be caused by well-being problems, such as chronic pain, ”explains doctoral student Salla Mikkola from the University of Helsinki.

The active Canine Genes Research Group at the University of Helsinki investigated links between aggressive behavior and several potential risk factors using a data set encompassing more than 9,000 dogs, a sample of a larger dataset from a behavioral survey dataset of nearly 14,000 dogs. The study investigated aggression towards dog owners and unknown humans. Dogs were classified as aggressive if they growled often and / or attempted to bite or bite a human at least occasionally in the situations described in the survey.

“Fear of dogs was strongly associated with aggressive behavior, with fearful dogs being several times more likely to behave aggressively. Additionally, older dogs were more likely to behave aggressively than younger ones. One of the potential reasons for this may be pain caused by an impaired senses can make it harder to detect approaching people, and dogs’ reactions to sudden situations can be aggressive, ”adds Mikkola.

Small dogs are more likely to behave aggressively than medium and large dogs, but their aggressive behavior is not necessarily considered as threatening as that of large dogs. Therefore, their behavior is not discussed. Additionally, the study found that male dogs were more aggressive than females. However, sterilization had no effect on aggressive behavior.

Early dogs from dog owners were more likely to behave aggressively than dogs whose owners had previous experience with dogs. The study also indicated that dogs who spend time in the company of other dogs behave less aggressively than dogs who live without other dogs in the household. Although this phenomenon has been observed in previous research, causality remains uncertain.

“For dogs that are prone to aggressive behavior in the first place, owners don’t necessarily want to take a risk of conflict with another dog,” Mikkola thought to himself.

Significant differences in aggressive behavior between breeds

Differences in aggressiveness between different breeds of dogs may indicate a genetic cause.

“In our data set, the long-haired collie, poodle (toy, miniature and medium), and miniature schnauzer were the most aggressive breeds. Previous studies have shown fear in long-haired collies, while the other two breeds were found to be aggressive. behavior towards unfamiliar people. As expected, the popular Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever breeds were on the other extreme. People considering buying a dog should familiarize themselves with the background and the needs of the breed. As for the breeders, they should also pay attention to the character of the candidates for the jump-off, as fear and aggressive behavior are inherited, “says Professor Hannes Lohi of the University of Helsinki.

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