LONDON — There’s some truth in the long-standing belief that dogs can sense fear in a human as a new British study has also suggested that anxious people and men are much more likely to be the victims of dog bites.
The study, based on a survey of almost 700 people, found that nearly a quarter of people said they had been bitten at least once during their life.
The authors reveal that when factors including age, dog ownership and sex were taken into account, the odds of men being bitten were 81% higher than for women, with the odds of current owners of multiple dogs being bitten more than three times higher than for those without a canine.
The finding came from a survey of nearly 700 people in northern England, carried out by researchers from the University of Liverpool in which participants were asked if they were ever bitten by a dog, whether they knew the dog that bit them, and the severity of the bites. They also took a 10-item personality test.
The more emotionally stable and less neurotic the participants were, the less likely they were to have been bitten by a dog, the study found.
As a person’s emotional stability score increased by a single point, between 1 and 7, their likelihood of having been bitten fell by 23 percent, The Guardian reported.
The team also found that those who rated themselves as more calm or emotionally stable in the survey’s questionnaire were less likely to report having been bitten by a dog.
It is unclear whether anxious behaviour increases the risk, if being bitten increases emotional instability, or whether calmer owners were more likely to have calm dogs, said Dr Carri Westgarth, co-author of the research from the University of Liverpool.
The study results were published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.