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Does someone's personality affect the risk of a dog bite?

Can your body language and personality increase the chances of a dog bite? You know that you shouldn't tease a dog, act aggressively toward it or bother it while it is eating. However, there may be specific personality traits that could lead to you being a dog bite victim.

A recent article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health attempted to explain the what characteristics of dog bite victims could make it more likely that they were attacked. The study was done in the United Kingdom -- in the city of Cheshire, England, to be specific.

The researchers were able to gather dog bite data from 694 residents. They determined from the interviews that dog bites were uncommon. It was estimated that only 19 dog bites occurred per 1,000 people each year. In addition, only a tiny proportion of those attacks required admission to a hospital or even medical treatment. Fifty-five percent of victims were bitten by dogs they didn't know.

Children under the age of 15 accounted for 44 percent of the bites and women were half as likely to be bitten as men.

The researchers also gave a short personality test to the interviewees. Individuals who scored high on the test when asked about their anger, anxiety, irritability, worry, sadness, vulnerability, self-consciousness and hostility were placed in a category called neuroticism. This is defined as a tendency toward negative feelings in general.

In many cases, this led to them suffering from a variety of physical and mental problems more frequently than those who were considered more "stable." Some of these problems included alcohol and drug dependency and panic and anxiety disorders.

The findings were that those who scored higher on the test when it came to neuroticism were 22 percent more likely to suffer a dog bite. This is the first time that researchers have been able to link someone's personality to the probability that he or she will suffer a dog attack.

This study, while interesting, does not relieve a dog's owner of liability in most dog attacks. Homeowner's insurance may be used by the dog's owner to cover claims, but civil action may also be used to hold the owner accountable. An experienced attorney can help you determine your legal options.

Source: Psycology Today, "Your Personality May Affect the Likelihood of a Dog Bite," Stanley Coren, accessed May 21, 2018

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