Loud, distressing noises are a common source of stress for pets. Many dog owners have seen their friend frightened and even run away during a thunderstorm or fireworks display.
Now, according to new research, loud, crashing noises aren’t the only sounds that can worry a dog, so can everyday beeps and rings in your home.
Many everyday items may cause anxiety in dogs, according to researchers from the University of California-Davis.
Furthermore, their research reveals that pet owners frequently miss signs that their dog is nervous, anxious, or stressed.
The sounds of a vacuum cleaner, a smoke alarm, or even a microwave can all induce stress in dogs.
High-frequency, intermittent sounds are the most commonly identified stressors for dogs, but relatively low-frequency continuous sounds can also cause distress.
The findings were published online in Applied Animal Behavior Science.
The study was conducted by scientists from the University of California-Davis who presented their results at the annual meeting of the British Society for Veterinary Behaviorists, held recently in Birmingham.
We know that there are a lot of dogs who have noise sensitivities, but we underestimate their sensitivity to noise because many dog owners can’t read body language.Emma Grigg, a research associate and lecturer at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Learn how to identify anxiety indicators.
One of the keys to assisting dogs, according to experts, is understanding what to look for when they are anxious. Signals of anxiety include cringing, trembling, or fleeing away.
However, the researchers found that dogs exhibit additional subtle behaviors when noises frighten them.
Dogs can pant while stressed out, they may also lick their lips and turn their heads away from the noise.
There are other changes in body language and voice cues that can help dog owners identify if their canine is stressed out, such as moving slowly or shifting his weight between two legs while standing at attention, or showing a half moon eye (the white part of the eye is visible).
By understanding these signs, dog owners will be better equipped to help their pets during a moment of distress.
Researchers have identified the areas of the brain that process sounds, and they say it is important for dog owners to know which frequencies trigger anxiety in their pets.
Dogs hear more slowly than humans do, and at lower tones. In addition, high-frequency tones are easily absorbed by structures around them, so they do not always travel as far.
Unfortunately, many pet owners are not only missing these symptoms, but they’re also completely misunderstanding them.
Grigg’s team investigated 386 dog owners regarding their pet’s reactions to typical noises in the home. In addition, they watched 62 video recordings of human and dog behavior in response to common sounds.
“There is a disconnect between dog owners’ perceptions of fearfulness and the amount of fearful behavior exhibited. Some react with amusement rather than concern,” Grigg adds.
“We hope that this research will help people realize the sources of loud sounds that could be causing their dog distress so they can take measures to minimize his or her stress.”
What’s the best way to keep your dog from stressing?
Researchers warn that even everyday noises that pet owners take for granted might be excruciating to their dogs.
To assist dogs to avoid stress, the team suggests changing the batteries in devices like smoke alarms more often. Dog owners should also remove their pets from rooms where they anticipate chaotic sounds.
“We engage them with body language much more than speech,” Grigg said. “If we understand their sensitivity, we can interact with them better and be more proactive in mitigating their stress.”
For more information on dog behavior, visit the Animal Planet website.