Researchers at the University of Liverpool studied 143 videos showing dog attacks uploaded to Youtube between January 2016 and March 2017 in an attempt to identify any human behaviour which may have led to the attack as well as any warning signs demonstrated by the dog. The study is seen as unique because previous investigations relied on the memory of owners/victims which can often be inaccurate and fail to identify subtle warning signs.
While it was acknowledged by the researchers that not only that the video study was relatively small but it could be biased because bites by small dogs are more likely to be uploaded to Youtube because they're seen as being more "comical" however the conclusion they reached was that in the 20 seconds before a bite contact with the dog usually increased as did standing or leaning over a dog. To prevent dog bites the researchers believe that the risk of leaning over or interacting an unfamiliar dog should be emphasised. The dog behaviour observed also showed that the "ladder of aggression" (a theory that proposed the dog behaviours before a bite escalate gradually - in the time immediately before the bite or over years - with some behaviour such as lip licking or head turning being shown earlier in time than other behaviours like growling or teeth barring) could be observed but that changes in dog body posture were usually more obvious.
Says Dog Bite Solicitor James McNally:
This study doesn’t necessarily tell us anything new but it does confirm what has been believed by dog bite experts for a long while. There is nearly always a reason why a dog bites and a dog will nearly always give warnings signs before they bite. We all have days when we want to be left alone or given some space and when we can snap and shout if people continue to annoy us. A dog biting is really no different from that. It certainly doesn’t mean that the dog is aggressive or is a Dangerous Dog. Dog owners are usually able to spot the signs and will pick up on their dog’s behaviour but strangers often don’t. It is something which dog owners need to be aware of if they are going to let other’s interact with their dog.
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