New Research Finds That the Majority of Dogs Suffer from Anxiety
As the saying goes, dogs are humans' best friends, but that doesn't mean that they always enjoy being in every environment with you. According to Medical News Today, many of our canine companions are living with anxiety. In a study published in Scientific Reports, the lead researcher Milla Salonen and other members of her team studied the behaviors of over 13,000 pet dogs in Finland and found that 72.5 percent of them exhibited anxious traits.
To gather the data for the study, the researchers enlisted the dogs' owners to answer behavior questionnaires in relation to seven anxiety qualities: noise sensitivity, general fear, fear of surfaces, impulsivity or lack of attention, compulsive behaviors, aggression, and separation anxiety. After reading through the owners' responses on behalf of 264 different breeds, noise sensitivity ranked as the highest stressor at 32 percent. The highest noise trigger? Fireworks, which caused fear in 26 percent of pups.
All in all, general fear prompted anxiety in 29 percent of the pets. "Specifically, 17 percent of dogs showed fear of other dogs, 15 percent fear of strangers, and 11 percent fear of novel situations," the researchers added. The dogs' breeds also played a major role in how they reacted to certain anxiety triggers—mixed breed dogs being some of the most with sensitivity towards noise.
"Behavior has a major genetic component," the authors noted. "[S]ome genomic areas and loci are associated with problematic behavior, including compulsion, fear, and noise sensitivity." While more research can help determine how to help pups with their nervous ticks, the authors do think that rules put in place can help them in the long run. "Breeding policies may help to improve dog welfare, as could changes in the living environment," they said.