Research found that almost three-quarters of pet dogs have a highly problematic anxiety-related behavior. Aside from dogs’ physical problems such as breathing difficulties, experts suggest breeders to focus on dogs’ behavior, too.
“Behavioral problems are the leading cause for the relinquishment of euthanasia of the dogs,” said Prof Hannes Lohi, a co-author of the study from the University of Helsinki.
The study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, was based on a survey on pet owner of more than 13,700 dogs in Finland that spanned to 264 breeds from puppies to senior dogs. In the research, the scientists examined the frequency of seven anxiety-related traits: noise sensitivity, fear, aggression, separation problems and compulsive behavior.
72.5% of the dogs showed a highly problematic behavior. A third of them showed high sensitivity to noise, 29% of dogs were very fearful, and 14% had highly problematic aggression. “We observed some differences such as male dogs being more often aggressive and impulsive, while female dogs were more fearful,” Lohi said.
High noise sensitivity was more common among senior pups, while young dogs had a destructive behavior when alone. They also looked at the breeds to find out which traits are more common in certain types of dog.
For example, miniature schnauzers were found to have had high levels of aggression towards strangers and even some family members, while nearly 10% of Staffordshire bull terriers chased their tails, which is also a sign of anxiety.
However, it is not clear yet whether the trends would be the same in other countries. Dr. Rowena Packer, an expert in animal behavior and welfare from the Royal Veterinary College, said the environment can largely contribute to dog’s behavior.
“The way that both breeders and owners interact with dogs is hugely important in raising mentally health dogs,” she said. “This includes appropriate socialization to people and other animals and habituation to day-to-day experiences as puppies, and positive, force-free training throughout life.”