Independent Researcher, London SW11 1RB, UK
Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20122 Milano MI, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091662 (registering DOI)
Received: 30 May 2020 / Revised: 27 August 2020 / Accepted: 2 September 2020 / Published: 16 September 2020
The prevention of dog bites is an important issue with multiple safety and welfare aspects. We investigated the characteristics of dog bite incidents reported to public authorities in the North of Italy with the aim of providing more data for future risk assessment and prevention tools. We found that no breeds in particular were responsible for severe or multiple bites towards either humans or dogs, but there was a trend of defensive bites towards human beings in private homes and a trend of offensive bites towards other dogs in public areas. We also found that crossbreed dogs and dogs adopted from shelters were significantly more likely to show defensive aggression towards their owners. Our findings indicate that defensive aggression towards owners is linked to fear and anxiety, and we suggest that helping owners to have a better understanding of their dogs’ welfare, behaviour and communication via educational programs is an important prevention tool.