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Study says owner, other factors contribute to dog aggression

Most Chicago residents probably know what to look for when it comes to an "aggressive dog." A snarling dog, a big dog, a barking dog, a lunging dog -- all of these factors, and any combination of them, can cause someone to fear the animal. It can also mean that the animal truly is an aggressive dog, one that would attack and bite an innocent bystander.

However, it could also mean that the dog is just scared, and that it truly isn't a dangerous or aggressive animal. In fact, a recent study about dogs and their owners says that if you really want to spot an aggressive or dangerous dog, it will be the owner you want to look at, not that dog.

Essentially the study is challenging the notion that pit bulls and Rottweilers are the breeds that usually end up causing dog bites, while also asserting that aggression is a complex behavior that can be largely affected by the owner's training and rearing of the dog. The study found that the age of a dog owner and the training the dog has received play crucial roles in a dog's aggression, as do the dog's past experiences -- such as where it grew up -- and whether the dog is male or female.

As we have covered over the past few weeks, pit bulls are not the only dogs that attack people, despite media portrayals to the contrary. A poodle or a beagle can be dangerous or aggressive if improperly trained.

Source: HealthDay, "What makes an aggressive dog, and how you can spot one," Dennis Thompson, March 1, 2014

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