Keeping children safe: how reliable are children at interpreting dog behaviour?

Lakestani, Nelly and Donaldson, Morag and Verga, Marina and Waran, Natalie (2006) Keeping children safe: how reliable are children at interpreting dog behaviour? In: International Society for Applied Ethology Conference .

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Abstract

There is little rigorous research relating to why children are more likely to be bitten by dogs and on how the situation differs between countries. This study investigates if there are differences between the way children of different age groups and countries interpret dog behaviour.

The study was carried out in public nurseries and primary schools the UK, Italy and Spain and involved 430 children of the following ages: 4, 6, 8, 10 years old. Each child was shown 12 short video clips of dogs performing normal behaviours (e.g. greeting,fear) and asked how the dog was feeling (i.e. happy, sad, scared, angry) and to explain what led them to think that the dog was feeling that way (e.g. body actions, behaviours). Parents were asked to fill in a form which included questions on whether the child had been bitten by a dog in the past.

Approximately 10% of the children had been bitten by a dog out of which 50% were between the ages of 3 and 5 years old, 15% below 2 years old and 33%between 6 and 9 years old. Irrespective of nationality, children under 4 years of age were found to be less good at interpreting the behaviour of the dog than the other age groups(chi-square =137.829, df=6, P<0.001) especially friendly (chi-square =47.449, df=3, P<0.001) and fearful (chi-square =31.174, df=3, P<0.001) dogs. They looked more at the face of the dog in order to make their decisions and less at the movements and postures. Because the body language of dogs is not the same as humans, by looking more at the dogs' facial expression young children may be more at risk from misinterpreting a dog's intent and so getting bitten. This suggests that younger children may require dog behaviour awareness training in order to ensure that they are kept safe.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Keywords:dog bite prevention, humman animal interaction, dog behaviour, children, emotion recognition
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D330 Veterinary Public Health
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D990 Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5623
Deposited By:INVALID USER
Deposited On:22 May 2012 14:33
Last Modified:02 Oct 2014 07:33

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