Researchers of a new study used the popular video-sharing site YouTube to conduct direct observation and analyses of dog bites.
Dog bites cause injury and spread germs. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 18 percent of dog bites become infected with bacteria. Dog bites are also linked to infection with rabies, tetanus, and MRSA.
YouTube Videos For Studying Dog Bites
Study researcher Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka, from the University of Liverpool, said that videos posted on the internet provide them with an opportunity to observe dog bites first-hand, which is not possible using other methods.
Most studies use evidence that was collected after bites occurred such as an interview with victims of dog bites and hospital records.
She said that Youtube videos could provide a better understanding of why bites happen, which can contribute to the development of strategies for preventing bites.
The researchers searched for relevant videos using the search terms "dog attack" and "dog bite".
They then recorded the context of bites, characteristics of both the victim and dog and the severity of bites in each of the 143 videos they used in the study. Fifty-six of these videos also allowed them to analyze the details of human and dog behavior leading up to the bite.
Dogs That Commonly Bite
The findings showed that the demographic characteristics of the victims and dogs in these Youtube videos such as the victim's age and sex, as well as the breed type of the animal are consistent with those found in earlier studies.
The common dog breeds that the researchers observed likewise include Pit bulls, Labrador retrievers, Chihuahuas and German Shepherds. About seven in 10 bite victims were male and more than half of the bites observed involved children and infants.
Behaviors Leading To Bites
The researchers also found that some of the behaviors that have earlier been observed within the context of dog bites also preceded a bite in their study. Owczarczak-Garstecka and colleagues, for instance, observed that tactile contact with a dog increased about 20 seconds before a bite as did standing or leaning over a dog,
"Prevention messages could emphasise the risk of leaning over a dog and simply advise avoiding contact with a dog when possible or in doubt (for instance, when interacting with an unfamiliar dog)," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports on May 8.
"In a lead up to a bite, changes in dog body posture were more obvious than changes in appeasement and displacement behaviours. "