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Human-directed aggression in domestic dogs

R. A. Casey, B. Loftus, C. Bolster, G. J. Richards, E. J. Blackwell

AGGRESSION directed towards people is a common reason for relinquishing owned dogs and is the most commonly reported behavioural problem in domestic dogs. It can also have physical, psychological and economic consequences for owners. This study aimed to estimate the extent to which pet dogs in the UK showed aggression in different contexts and to investigate risk factors for different types of aggression.

A questionnaire that included questions about owners, their dogs, dog training classes and aggressive behaviours was distributed to a convenience sample of 14,566 dog owners from a range of locations around the UK. Questionnaires were distributed at dog shows, veterinary practices and other locations that dog owners would be likely to frequent.

A total of 3897 questionnaires were completed and returned. Approximately 3 per cent of owners reported aggression towards family members, 7 per cent reported aggression towards unfamiliar people in the family home and 5 per cent reported aggression towards strangers outside of the home. Respondents aged over 60 were significantly (5.3 times) less likely to report aggression compared with respondents aged under …

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