Table 1 Circumstances of aggression to 111 children by dogs presented to a veterinary behavior service
CategoryStimulus description<6 years(n = 34)6–17 years(n = 77)p Value
Aggression to familiar children
    Resource guardingApproaching, reaching for or touching dog while dog is near or eating/chewing food, bone or toy15 (44)14 (18)0.009
    Benign (non-aversive)Petting, hugging, kissing, bending over, reaching, speaking5 (15)15 (19)NS
    RestingWaking dog; interacting while dog is resting; approaching while dog is resting/lying down; lying beside recumbent dog; pushing/pulling dog off furniture1 (3)8 (10)NS
    Aversive, painfulStepping on dog; pulling on hair or body; falling on to dog; trimming nails; punishment by hitting or use of leash correction6 (18)0 (0)0.0006
    Aversive, non-painfulRestraint/pulling by collar; grooming, toweling feet; bathing; lifting; verbally scolding0 (0)5 (6)NS
Aggression to unfamiliar children
    Territorial, non-interactiveIn/on dog’s territory, including house, yard, area surrounding home, car; child does not interact3 (9)*18 (23)NS
    Territorial, interactiveIn/on dog’s territory, including house, yard, area surrounding home, car; child interacts, eg, by speaking to dog, petting, reaching, attempting to feed, removing objects, restraining2 (6)*8 (10)NS
    Not territorial, interactiveNot on dog’s territory; child interacts, eg, by speaking to dog, petting, reaching, attempting to feed, removing objects, restraining0 (0)4 (5)NS
    Not territorial, non-interactiveNot on dog’s territory; child does not interact1 (3)4 (5)NS
Aggression - other2 (6)7 (9)
  • Values are number (%). Columns may add up to more than total because children could have been bitten in more than one context (one child in <6-year-old group; six children in 6–17-year-old group).

  • *Total N = 33; cirumstances of territorial bite were unknown for one child.

  • †Comparison was not performed because bite circumstances varied.