Most of the time, conversations about how dogs respond to noise focus on big, scary, sudden noises like thunder, fireworks, and gunshots. A Article published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, November 2021 looks at how everyday household noises affect dogs and how people often (mis)interpret dogs that show signs of fear and anxiety. For context, other studies have reported a prevalence of noise sensitivity in dogs of up to 50%, so it’s an important issue. I recommend that you read the entire newspaper yourself. However, here are the highlights and headlines.
I may do another video on this paper when I have time, but for now here are the main points.
- “Noises common in households can evoke fear, anxiety, or stress reactions in companion dogs.”
- “Owners may misinterpret or respond negatively to expressions of fear, anxiety, or stress from their companion dog when the stressor is considered ‘common’.”
Summary of Methods
- 386 dog owners surveyed
- 72 breeds represented (mostly medium-sized adults, 59.2% reported as the only dog in the household)
- 50% mongrel (after that heavy drop)
- 5.8% Labrador retrievers
- 2.9% each – American Pit Bull Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds
- Review and Evaluation of 62 Videos on 24 Behavioral Signs of Stress in Dogs (Individual Videos and Compilations Showing Mainly Dogs Stressed About Vacuum Cleaners)
- Noise categorized as “high frequency intermittent” (like smoke detector beeping or chirping) or “low frequency continuous” (running vacuum)
The paper’s authors say: “While the videos cannot be used to calculate the true prevalence of these problems, our data supports that some owners underestimate their dogs’ anxiety levels in response to household noises and inappropriately respond to dogs’ expressions of fear and anxiety.” react. “
The paper’s authors say that people need a better understanding of canine body language to “ensure canine welfare and minimize the development of anxiety-related behavior problems.”
Would you like to find out more? I’m a fan of Lili Chin’s illustrations of body language and meaning of dogs, including the in dog language book.
Headlines: Frequent household noises affect dogs
Most survey participants (66.8%) said their dogs were NOT anxious.
However, when asked about fear of loud noises (fireworks, thunder, gunshots, etc.), almost half answered yes.
Dogs responded “significantly more” to intermittent high-frequency sounds to common household noises than to continuous low-frequency sounds.
Individual videos review featured people:
- Behavior as a spectator (49.1%)
- Show amusement (45.6%)
- Trying to “analyze or understand the dog’s behavior” (26.3%)
- Intentionally antagonizing the dog to evoke the desired response (22.8%)
“Concern about the dog was expressed in only 17.5% of the videos.”
Verified People Compilation Videos:
- Behavior as a spectator (46.9%)
- show amusement (21.3%)
- Intentionally antagonizing the dog to elicit the desired response (20.2%)
“Concern for the dog was not expressed/observed in any of the compilation clips.”
Why noise matters
Think of noise as second-hand smoke. Not good. Anxiety and anxiety add additional stress to dogs’ lives that can affect their physical health, emotional well-being and even life expectancy. It also leads to behaviors that can be a real problem in daily life and around other dogs, their families and other people. All of this can lead to things like:
- Development of behavioral or physiological problems
- Damage to the human-animal bond through unwanted behaviors resulting from fears/phobias/fears
- Declining commitment to dog grooming
- Increased risk of renunciation or euthanasia
What you can do – I’m speaking here
- Don’t terrorize dogs over social media videos. Seriously. Stop it.
- If you see these videos, point out that these videos are NOT funny and instead reveal a dog’s plight.
- Recognize and address how common household noises affect dogs in your own home. See my examples below.
Examples of how common household noises affect dogs
After living for 9 years with our original dog heroine, Lilly, who was a really fearful dog, I like to think I can tell when even seemingly minor things make dogs angry. Therefore, in addition to the typical puppy socialization efforts I make with our various foster puppies, I also focus on noise to help them feel safe in the presence of normal household noises and activities.
As a puppy, for example, Mr. Stix initially seemed scared Popping microwave popcorn. I’ve never really thought about it, but it makes sense. It probably sounded sharp and sudden, like firecrackers or gunshots. We addressed his concerns by combining the noise with food. When he figured out that the sound meant popcorn was coming, that helped a lot. He likes popcorn.
And yet I vividly remember taking this picture when he was a puppy. One of Smoke detectors beeped intermittently with a low battery alarm, and Mr. Stix slept through it. The girls lost their minds, but he didn’t react at all.
We recently bought one new microwave that beeps tons more than our old one. Every button pressed beeps, and worst of all, it beeps about 5 times when it’s done, which is a lot longer than our old microwave.
Our eldest, Clover – who hates things that beep – fell apart. Poor puppy girl. Each time I used the new microwave, I gave all three dogs cheese-flavored crackers—at progressively smaller distances from the microwave. The community aspect helped I think. In just a few days, everyone would come running for cheese crackers whenever they heard the microwave turn on. I did this for maybe 2-3 weeks and it worked. No more crouching, crawling, and hiding from Clover when the microwave beeps now.
The other thing I realized about not teaching my dogs when there were puppies was Cheering on the TV at sporting events and such. So with foster puppies I occasionally show up and clap and express a higher level of excitement and make a little party out of it for the puppies too – just in case they are later adopted by big sports fans.
In addition to all those electronic things that beep on their own or during power outages, other common household noises that affect dogs are things like:
- food processors
- Electric blenders
- Whistling tea kettle
- Hissing coffee machines
- Lawn care equipment
- Loud cars or motorcycles
- Children play / yell / yell