Pet Shrinks Needed For Terrified Dogs

Owners of fearful pups urged to seek professional help by Bristol researchers

Researchers from Bristol University have revealed new insights into why dogs fear loud noises and urged more dog-owners to seek professional help.

The research was carried out by the School of Vetenary Sciences with funding from the RSPCA, and it is hoped the results will “improve our understanding of behavioural signs of fear” in dogs.

(Photo: klynslis) Nervous or just hungry?

Owners were interviewed by post and in person about their pets’ reactions to loud noises such as fireworks and thunder. It was discovered that almost half of people whose dogs showed “at least one behavioural sign typical of fear” did not realise their dog was scared.

The most common fearful behaviours identified were trembling, hiding, vocalising and seeking people.

The study explains that whilst trembling and shaking are often recognised as fear because “they are similar to fearful behaviours in humans”, other symptoms such as “decreased activity or salivation” are unfamiliar and therefore missed.

Dr Rachel Casey, European Specialist and Senior Lecturer at Bristol University, explained: “less than a third of owners sought professional advice about treatment for their pet’s response to noises.”

The researchers called for vets to increase awareness among dog owners that effective treatment is available for dealing with fears of loud noises, and to “direct them towards appropriate sources of help”.