Millions of families around the country own dogs. In a recent press release, researchers state that most dogs that bite children have never bitten anyone before. However, the dogs that bite children usually have a behavioral or medical problem. Are there any signs or symptoms or breeds that you pay close attention to? Could your dog be a biter?
Every year we hear of unfortunate incidents where a child is bitten. Researchers wondered if there were any commonalities that could be established.
Researchers analyzed dog bites that had happened over a four-year period. They wanted to target children. It included analyzing 111 dog bite cases where children under 18 were bitten. Of these, 103 of the dogs had bitten young children. After biting children, the dogs were sent to a veterinary behavior clinic for evaluation.
One in five of the dogs that were studied had never bitten anyone before, and two third had not bitten a child. Most of the dogs had been neutered. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) had attended obedience training.
Over half of the dogs that had bitten children had medical problems. These problems affected their bones or skin. Several had eye problems, liver and kidney disease, hormonal problems, and infections. Like humans, they could have been in pain. Their pain could have contributed to their biting behavior.
When dogs bite
As one might expect, there were times when bites could be anticipated in advance, and hopefully, avoided. Findings include:
* Children under 6 were bitten when dogs were guarding their resources (44 percent)
* Older children were bitten in association with guarding their territory (23 percent)
* Familiar children were bitten while the dog was guarding their food (42 percent)
* Unfamiliar children were bitten while the dog was guarding their territory (53 percent)
Protecting their “property”
Dogs can be very protective of their “property.” Property includes their food, toys, or anything else that is theirs that a young child might try to grab or take. Young children were particularly susceptible to being bitten if their dogs felt threatened by the child trying to get the dogs “property.”
Fear and anxiety in dogs
Fully 75 percent of the dogs showed symptoms of anxiety when their owners were gone, or when they heard loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks. Dogs may bite children when they sense a threat. Young children can move quickly, be unpredictable, noisy, and reach for a dogs property unexpectedly. All of these events may cause a dog to bite a young child.