Your dog crawls into a corner, pulls its tail and howls heartbreakingly? No question about it: fear is involved. A recent study suggests that genes actually affect the likelihood of a dog being particularly anxious or not.
For the Finnish study , the authors compared 14 dog breeds, of which more than 200 dog owners worldwide rated the fear behavior of their four-legged friends. Overall, the researchers found that more than 70 percent of all dogs exhibited at least one fear-based behavior pattern.
The most common cause of anxiety in dogs is sensitivity to noise. According to the study, around every third dog suffers from this. The sensitivity can be expressed, among other things, in the fear of fireworks , thunderstorms or gunfire. The researchers also found that as the dogs got older, their sensitivity to noise also increased.
Strangers, Fireworks, Other Dogs: When Dogs Get Scared
Shortly after the fear of fireworks comes the fear of surfaces and heights. Many dog owners are probably familiar with the phenomenon that their dog does not want to climb stairs or is extremely skeptical about certain surfaces such as reflective tiles. Around 17 percent of dogs are afraid of other conspecifics, 15 percent are afraid of strangers and eleven percent are fearful in new situations.
In addition to age, breed also plays a role: different fears occurred differently depending on the dog breed. Almost every tenth Miniature Schnauzer showed fearful and aggressive behavior towards strangers. In contrast, this behavior has not been reported in any Labrador .
Mixed breeds proved to be very anxious in general. Lagotto Romagnolo and Irish Soft Cotton Wheaten Terriers, on the other hand, were particularly afraid of fireworks.
Overall, the results provide a good indication that anxiety in dogs is genetic – similar to that in humans.
The interesting thing: A previous study had already found that there is a gene in the DNA of German Shepherds that is associated with dog social skills. However, the same gene also determines how sensitive dogs are to noise, reports ” Science Mag “. The researchers in the current study therefore suspect that people have at the same time opted for more noise-sensitive dogs by opting for more social dogs.
Study could provide interesting insights into dog fear
The study could provide interesting answers as to why your dog is anxious. Because the owners rated the behavior of their dogs themselves, there is a risk that the result was slightly distorted.
Also, not all the answers are in the genes. Mixed breeds, for example, often end up in animal shelters, where they often experience an environment that encourages fear. This fact could be a reason why mixed race were generally classified as very anxious.