New Research Says When Dogs Bite Children, Dogs Have a Reason

A big thank you to the researchers on this study. I can't say it's a surprize but it is good to see it in print...

Joy  |  Oct 5th 2007


A big thank you to the researchers on this study. I can’t say it’s a surprize but it is good to see it in print that biting dogs don’t do it because they are “bad” or a “bad breed.”

Thanks to News-Medical.net for this article.

When dogs bite children they have a good reason
Published: Thursday, 4-Oct-2007

According to research from the U.S. when dogs bite children it is for a reason.
The research found behavioral or painful medical problems, rather than breed, distinguished the dogs referred to a clinic after biting a child.

The study found that dogs experience anxiety, pain, and other medical as well as behavioral problems and these problems can provoke them to bite children even if they have never bitten anyone before.

The study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania examined the the circumstances surrounding 111 cases of dog bites by 103 dogs who were then referred to a veterinary behavioral clinic; the study covered a period of four years.

They found that young children were more likely to be bitten when dogs felt food or toys were under threat, while older children were bitten more often by dogs if they felt their territory was threatened in some way.

The research team also found that one in five of the dogs had never bitten a person before, and two-thirds of them had never bitten a child before.

Emergency room statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show children under the age of 14 account for 42 percent of U.S. dog-bite admissions.

The researchers also found that three-quarters of the dogs exhibited anxiety when left by their owners or exposed to loud noises and half of the dogs had medical conditions, mostly affecting bones or skin.

The study authors say that demonstrable fear may signal a tendency to bite when faced with a perceived threat; they say young children are often noisy and move unpredictably and both these actions can frighten a dog which is already anxious.