Human-directed aggressive dog behaviour (HDAB) is considered to be the most serious behavioural issue for dogs around the world, and the rate of dog attacks is an important topic of international interest.

A new study will explore the causes and perceptions of HDAB, and how these might change across different cultures, with the aim of creating a scientific framework for understanding and effectively handling aggressive dog behaviour.

Mie Kikuchi, PhD student, and Professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences are conducting the research which will aim to investigate whether people’s perception of HDAB differs because of various cultural factors.

Both dog-owners and people who don’t have any canine pets are being invited to complete a detailed survey to support the work of the research team. The survey will explore the communication signals, motivation and emotions of dogs within different contexts, and it will also take into account factors which may influence an individual’s perceptions of HDAB.

The study will aim to establish a consistent framework for defining HDAB, while also contributing to our understanding of this kind of behaviour.

Mie Kikuchi said: “The labelling of “aggression” or “aggressive behaviour” in dogs can often depend on an individual’s own perceptions. These may be influenced by personal characteristics, such as specific beliefs, personalities, knowledge and previous experiences, as well as the culture that particular individual lives in. We believe that by establishing a comprehensive and scientific understanding of the different elements of aggressive behaviour in dogs, we can ultimately improve the management of it.”

“There are three specific elements that we can look at to aid our assessment of aggressive behaviour in dogs – motivation, emotion, and context – but these haven’t been systematically explored scientifically.

“We hope the information gathered by our survey will help us to guide people so that they can recognise the causes of aggressive behaviour in dogs, and perhaps contribute to the discussion around how we should deal with HDAB.”

Dog owners and non-dog owners who are over 18 years old are invited to take part in the survey. To take part, visit: