Prevalence of fear responses to noises ('noise phobias') in dogs

Our recent research at the University of Bristol suggests that fear of loud noises are very common in the dog population. The research looked at both the numbers of dogs which owners thought were fearful when they heard loud noises. It also separately asked owners if their dog showed specific behavioural signs that are known to be associated with fear or anxiety, such as trembling / shaking, barking, salivating or hiding. This revealed a considerable gap between owners who thought their dog was fearful (25%), and the almost half (49%) which were showing behavioural signs of fear.

This result suggests that even where people see behavioural signs in their dogs they may not always understand them. This was particularly the case for the less obvious signs, such as seeking attention from owners. More research is needed in this area, but the findings of this study do suggest that approximately half of dogs in the UK show a negative behavioural response to loud noises such as fireworks.

Picture of fireworks

Which noises cause the greatest problem?

More owners report fearful behaviours in response to fireworks than other noises, as might be expected. Fireworks are loud and bright, but also occur unexpectedly for dogs without any warning.  Other loud and unpredictable noises such as thunderstorms and gunshots were the next most frequent contexts.

Further Information

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