Characteristics and risk factors of dog aggression in the Slovak Republic

https://doi.org/10.17221/8418-VETMEDCitation:Matos R., Jakuba T., Mino I., Fejsakova M., Demeova A., Kottferova J. (2015): Characteristics and risk factors of dog aggression in the Slovak Republic. Veterinarni Medicina, 60: 432-445.
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Canine aggression is a widespread problem which receives a lot of attention from the media. It has important consequences in terms of public health and animal welfare. To address this issue it is necessary to first determine its epidemiological characteristics in the target population. This study was aimed at exploring the characteristics and determining the risk factors for dog aggression in the Slovak Republic and, in particular, for aggression directed at humans. For this purpose, we used a questionnaire directed to dog owners which included information about dog and owner characteristics, housing, training and fear behaviour. From the 177 analysed questionnaires, 67% portrayed dogs with some type of aggressive behaviour. Half of the animals showed some degree of owner-directed aggression and almost 40% were aggressive towards unfamiliar people. The approach of an unfamiliar male was the situation that stimulated most dogs to behave aggressively (33.3%) and a small percentage (2.3%) of the animals always showed aggression when approached by an unfamiliar child. Multivariate logistic regression models found that “owner’s age” (OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.93 - 0.99) and “neuter status” (OR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.13–0.98) were significantly associated (P < 0.05) with the exhibiting of aggressive behaviour in different contexts. “Dog’s sex” (OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.09–4.27) and “type of training” (OR, 2.32; 95% CI, 1.19–4.80) were significantly associated (P < 0.05) with the exhibiting of aggressive behaviour towards familiar people. Younger owners were more likely to have aggressive dogs and neutered dogs were less likely to be aggressive in different contexts. Male dogs and dogs with informal training were more likely to be aggressive towards familiar people. Manifestations of fear were significantly associated with the expression of aggressive behaviour in all models. This study provides the first preliminary results on the characteristics and potential risk factors for human-directed aggression in Slovakia. The analysis of these data may help in determining which preventive measures should be given priority in this country.
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