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.
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.
To see further information about fear responses to noises in dogs, use the "Next" button at the bottom of the screen, or jump directly to one of the links below:
- Signs and development of noise fears ('noise phobias') in dogs
- What do I do if my dog is frightened of loud noises
- Information about prevention of noise fears by gradual habituation of puppies to noise - an except from the supporting materials for the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding’s Breeder Standard, reproduced here with the kind permission of the Council.