Dogs that fear strange circumstances, strangers and other animals often experience behavioural problems that can cause great distress to them and their owners,media New Atlas reported. Scientists in Finland conducted a study that examined the roots of the dog’s personality traits and found an unknown link between the urban living environment and the dog’s social fear.
The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Helsinki, who analyzed the data in a survey of the behaviour of nearly 6,000 dogs and their owners. The analysis allowed researchers to link different risk factors in dogs to social fears, some of which were surprising.
The lack of social skills during the puppy period is a well-known factor in behavioural problems. This may be related to a lack of contact with different situations, humans and stimuli in the early stages of a dog’s life. One of the unknown risk factors scientists have found is urban living conditions, where dogs are more likely to be feared than those kept in the countryside.
“No dog has ever been investigated like this before,” said Jenni Puurunen, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki’s School of Veterinary Medicine. What we do know is that human mental health problems in cities are more common than in rural areas. However, further research is needed before the reasons for the living environment can be given. “
One other interesting insight revealed by the study is that the dog’s activity level appears to be related to the level of social fear it has. The more feared a dog is, the less often the owner participates in activities and training, although it is not entirely clear whether this is the cause or result of the behavior.
Professor Hannis Lochi, of the University of Helsinki, said: “We have found that activity and stimulation have a positive impact on both dog and human behaviour. Of course, the less active dogs can also be attributed to their owners’ desire to avoid exposing their dogs to stress. Perhaps people’s interactions with timid dogs are not so active. “
The team also found that some breeds of dogs were more timid than others, such as Spanish water dogs and hierty sheepdogs, which were not as brave as Irish soft-haired terriers.
“The differences between different breeds support the idea that genes affect fear and many other mental health problems,” Losh said. This encourages further research, especially in the genetic area. All in all, this study provides us with tools to improve the well-being of our best friends: diverse socializing in early childhood, active lifestyles, and carefully chosen reproductive methods can significantly reduce social fear. “
The paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports.