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Study: Everyday household noise stresses dogs out

By HealthDay News

If your pooch often seems anxious, it could be due to common household noises such as from a vacuum or microwave oven, researchers say.

It's well known that a sudden loud racket such as fireworks or thunderstorms can spark anxiety in dogs, but this new study shows that even day-to-day sounds may upset them, and that owners may not realize it.

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"We feed them, house them, love them and we have a caretaker obligation to respond better to their anxiety," said lead author Emma Grigg, a research associate and lecturer at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

Her team surveyed 386 dog owners about their dogs' responses to household sounds and also assessed dog behaviors and human reactions from 62 online videos.

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High-frequency, intermittent household noises such as the battery warning of a smoke detector are more likely to cause a dog anxiety, rather than low-frequency, continuous noise, the researchers concluded.

They also found that many owners underestimate their dogs' frightened reactions to household noises, and often respond with amusement rather than concern, according to findings published this month in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

"We know that there are a lot of dogs that have noise sensitivities, but we underestimate their fearfulness to noise we consider normal because many dog owners can't read body language," Grigg said in a university news release.

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"Dogs use body language much more than vocalizing and we need to be aware of that," she added.

Common signs of anxiety in dogs include cringing, trembling or retreating. There are also more subtle clues such as panting, licking their lips, turning their head away, stiffening their body, turning their ears back and lowering their head below their shoulders.

"We hope this study gets people to think about the sources of sound that might be causing their dog stress, so they can take steps to minimize their dog's exposure to it," Grigg said.

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More information

The American Kennel Club offers advice on dog anxiety.

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