Assessment of owner-directed aggressive behavioural tendencies of dogs in situations of possession and manipulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Excessive aggression is a common behaviour problem in dogs that can have various destructive effects on the affected people and the implicated dog. Aggressive behaviour directed towards the owner or other family members is one of the most frequently occurring aggressive phenotypes. Here, we examine the reliability of a short questionnaire assessing aggressive behaviours by two, contextually different behavioural tests: ‘take away bone’ and ‘roll over’. Based on dogs’ behaviour in the tests, we sorted dogs (N=93) in two groups for each test, namely a less and a more disobedient/resistant group. The two principal components obtained in our questionnaire- ‘obedient’ and ‘aggressive towards owner’-showed significant differences between the behaviour groups. While dogs in the less disobedient/resistant groups had significantly higher ‘obedient’ and significantly lower ‘aggressive towards owner’ scores, dogs in the more disobedient/resistant groups had significantly higher ‘aggressive towards owner’ and significantly lower ‘obedient’ scores. Dogs’ age, sex and neuter/spay status expressed their effect through interactions. Males, young dogs and intact dogs were less ‘obedient’ than older ones, while resistant spayed/neutered dogs were more aggressive towards the owner. The questionnaire used is a safe, easy to deploy and time-efficient tool to reliably assess certain owner-directed aggressive tendencies of family dogs.


  • Anna Bálint
  • Gabriella Rieger
  • Ádám Miklósi
  • Péter Pongrácz
External organisations
  • Eötvös Loránd University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology


  • Aggressive behaviour, Behaviour test, Dog, Dog owner, Questionnaire
Original languageEnglish
Article number171040
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 18
Publication categoryResearch