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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 3002-3013; doi:10.3390/ijerph9083002

Dog Bite Risk: An Assessment of Child Temperament and Child-Dog Interactions

1,* , 1
1 Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1300 University Blvd, CH 415, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA 2 Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 June 2012 / Revised: 16 July 2012 / Accepted: 15 August 2012 / Published: 20 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Injury Prevention)
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Annually approximately 400,000 American children receive treatment for dog bites. Young children are at greatest risk and are frequently bitten following behavior that provokes familiar dogs. This study investigated the effects of child temperament on children’s interaction with dogs. Eighty-eight children aged 3.5–6 years interacted with a live dog. Dog and child behaviors were assessed through observational coding. Four child temperament constructs—impulsivity, inhibitory control, approach and shyness—were assessed via the parent-report Children’s Behavioral Questionnaire. Less shy children took greater risks with the dog, even after controlling for child and dog characteristics. No other temperament traits were associated with risk-taking with the dog. Based on these results, children’s behavior with unfamiliar dogs may parallel behavior with other novel or uncertain situations. Implications for dog bite intervention programs include targeting at-risk children and merging child- and parent-oriented interventions with existing programs geared toward the physical environment and the dog.
Keywords: temperament; injury; dog bites; children; shyness temperament; injury; dog bites; children; shyness
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Davis, A.L.; Schwebel, D.C.; Morrongiello, B.A.; Stewart, J.; Bell, M. Dog Bite Risk: An Assessment of Child Temperament and Child-Dog Interactions. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 3002-3013.

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