Preschool children’s attitudes to dogs in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom

Lakestani, Nelly, Waran, Natalie, Verga, marina and Donaldson, Morag (2009) Preschool children’s attitudes to dogs in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. In: International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting 2009, 28th - 31st October 2009, Edinburgh.

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University of Edinburgh, Edinbugh, United Kingdom; UNITEC New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand; Universita degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy; University of Edinburgh, Edinbugh, United Kingdom. Email:

The aim of this study was to assess young children’s attitudes to dogs in different European countries. Since exchange of information between the European countries is increasing, investigating differences in cultures is important for creating an effective European dog bite prevention program.

A short questionnaire composed of 12 items was created to measure children’s attitudes to dogs. This was administered to 107 nursery school children (mean age = 4.5 years old) in Milan, Barcelona and Edinburgh. Parents were asked to fill in a form which included questions on pet ownership and whether the child had been bitten by a dog in the past. This study was carried out as part of a larger study measuring children’s ability to interpret dog behaviour.

Reliability testing of the questionnaire yielded a Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.77, suggesting that the questionnaire reliably measures preschool children’s attitudes to dogs. Children who owned dogs were found to have a more positive attitude to dogs than children who didn’t own dogs (U=1347, p<0.001). No significant differences in attitudes to dogs were found between: the different countries, dog bite victims and non-victims, boys and girls. Overall, children’s attitudes to dogs were positive. In addition, no correlation was found between children’s ability to interpret the behaviour of dogs and their attitudes to dogs.

These results suggest that it is possible to measure very young children’s attitudes to dogs and that attitudes are positive across the three European cities tested. It will therefore be possible to use a single dog bite prevention programme for Italy, Spain and the UK, rather than having to modify it to suit different cultures.

Keywords:Attitudes to dogs, children attitudes, dog welfare, cross cultural attitudes
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D900 Others in Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5625
Deposited On:22 May 2012 15:21

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