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Journal Article

Citation

Riemer S. PLoS One 2019; 14(9): e0218150.

Affiliation

Companion Animal Behaviour Group, Division of Animal Welfare, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2019, Public Library of Science)

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0218150

PMID

31490926

Abstract

Noise fears represent a highly prevalent welfare problem in dogs. An online survey was performed to explore severity and progression of firework fears in dogs, and relationships with demographics, health, behaviour problems and owners' training efforts to prevent or alleviate firework fears. Fifty-two percent of dogs in the sample (N = 1225) were at least partially affected by firework fears, and the majority developed a fear of fireworks in the first year of life, with a decreasing frequency of new occurrences up until seven years, and only few newly affected dogs beyond this age. While almost three-quarters of fearful dogs had recovered by the next morning following firework exposure, recovery took up to one day in 10%, up to one week in 12%, and several weeks or even months in >3%. Univariate analyses indicated a significant effect of breed group, age, sex, neuter status, origin and age at acquisition on severity of firework fears in dogs. However, binomial models including multiple predictors of presence/ absence of firework fears identified only age, breed group (mixed breeds being most affected), health problems, and an interaction between health problems and age as significant predictors. This discrepancy might be explained by collinearities of predictors and underlying differences between mixed-breed dogs and purebreds, such as mixed breeds being acquired from shelters more often and being neutered more often. Firework fears are highly correlated with fears of gunshots and thunder, and to a low extent with fears of other noises, but not with any other behavioural problems. Both improvement and deterioration of firework fears were frequently reported. While an early age of onset and breed differences point to a strong genetic contribution to firework fears, the data indicate that training puppies or non-fearful adults to associate the noise with positive stimuli is highly effective in preventing later development of firework fears.


Language: en

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