Dogs being walked by men are four times more likely fight and bite other dogs, a new study has found. Having a canine on a lead also increases its aggressive behaviour, according to Mendel University in the Czech Republic.
Researchers examined how a dog’s age, sex and size, as well as the owner’s gender and use of a lead all influenced how dogs behaved while out on their daily walks. They watched 2,000 instances where dogs met during the morning and afternoon in 30 different parts of the city of Brno. Incredibly they found that it was having a male owner on the walk that had the largest impact on whether the dog tried to threaten or bite another dog. “We propose that the occurrence of threat and biting in dogs on a walk may have some connection with aggressive tendencies and/or impulsiveness in people,” Professor Petr Rezac said, “Dogs are able to perceive subtle messages of threat emitted by another dog. Simultaneously, dogs are unusually skilled at reading human social and communicative behaviour.”
The study found the most frequent doggy behaviour is body sniffing and even less surprisingly males sniff females more often and males and females prefer play with each other. But not being free to play off the lead makes them more frustrated. Dogs off one sniffed one another more often than dogs on a lead. They also threatened each other twice as often when on a lead. “This is most likely a reflection of the frustration dogs feel when the leash prohibits them from expressing normal greeting behaviours,” said Inga Fricke, director of the Humane Society of the United States. She said this is known as ‘leash frustration’ or ‘leash aggression.’
Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club, said dogs do not like being stopped from running and playing. ‘They can’t do this run-around behaviour when on a leash and they likely feel more threatened,’ she said. “They are also more inclined to resource guard, with the owner being the resource. It’s as though they are communicating. He is my owner. I don’t want you to have him because he feeds and cares for me. The increased incidence of bites when dogs are being handled by males, rather than females, may simply be a reflection of dogs mirroring the emotions of their handlers; if their handlers are acting either defensively upon meeting, their dogs are likely to sense and reflect that.”