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Human-directed aggression: are we barking up the wrong tree?
  1. Tiny De Keuster, DVM, Dip ECAWBM1
  1. 1Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Nutrition, Genetics and Ethology, Ghent University, Heidestraat 19, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
  1. E-mail for correspondence: tiny.dekeuster{at}ugent.bes

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The impact of dog bites on human health has been extensively documented in the literature and risk factor analysis has been very useful in the search for causal mechanisms of dog bite accidents, by identifying human-, dog- and context-related risk factors. In this way, epidemiological studies have contributed to a better understanding of specific triggers of dog bites in a given context (Reisner and others 2007, Gilchrist and others 2008, Rezac and others 2015) and have helped to tailor more adequate prevention strategies; that is, for a household setting and a familiar dog (Meints and De Keuster 2009, Schwebel and others 2012, Dixon and others 2013, Shen and others 2016), or for a human-dog encounter in public places with an unfamiliar dog (Chapman and others 2000, Hornisberger 2015, Lakestani and Donaldson 2015).

At the same time, a number of conclusions proved to be a major point of disagreement between studies worldwide, especially those relating to the dog’s characteristics, the dog-owning household, and also to the type of education and training methods used.

Even though decades of research have stressed the importance of avoiding interpretation bias in studies (Parrish and others 1959, Overall and Love 2001, Cornelissen and Hopster 2010), the frequent lack of …

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