Dog owners understand how noisy noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms on a rainy afternoon can create anxiety. 

California researchers have now warned that common household noises can also trigger dog anxiety. 

The experts analysed 62 videos of dogs reacting to common noises posted to YouTube, focusing on the reactions of both dogs and their owners. 

These results indicate that dogs are more anxious about high-frequency sounds, such as those from a smoke detector battery warning. 

The study found that owners often overlook warning signs of anxiety in their pets, or mistakenly interpret them as funny or silly behavior. 

The videos show some human owners showing signs of antagonism or amusement ‘to obtain the desired response’. 

Dogs can be anxiously triggered by common noises in the house, including the alarm sound on the smoke detector’s battery, the drone of the microwave, and the constant hum from a vacuum cleaner. Stock image

Anxiety-Inducing NOISES 

Researchers analysed videos showing dogs responding to common sounds posted on YouTube. 

The responses of dogs were more positive than those to “High frequency intermittent“Songs are more important than words”Low frequency, continuousAccording to the study,’sounds are most common.

Intermittent high frequency 

– Warning beeps and chirps from smoke detectors 

– Telephone ringing 

The cry of a baby human 

Low frequency, continuous 

– Microwave hum

– Vacuum cleaner 

The new study was led by Emma Grigg at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, and published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 

‘There is a mismatch between owners’ perceptions of the fearfulness and the amount of fearful behavior actually present – some react with amusement rather than concern,’ said Grigg.

“We recognize that dogs can be sensitive to noise. However, we tend to underestimate the fear they have because most dog owners don’t know how body language works. 

“We hope that this study will encourage people to consider the sound sources that could be causing stress in their dogs, and to take measures to reduce their exposure.

Researchers conducted surveys among 386 dog owners to assess their dog’s responses to sounds in the home, which included the behaviour of their dog and the strength of their reactions. 

Additionally, recordings were made of dogs reacting with common household noises and humans, which was also reviewed by the team. 

The titles of these videos were: “Dog afraid of popcorn”, “Golden Retriever fear of microwave” and “My Dog crying cuz da smoke detector went off”. 

Respondents to the survey reported numerous symptoms such as anxiety and fear of dogs. The videos show these signs in action, when they respond to household noises both regular and more irregular, but not normal, sounds. 

What to do if your dog seems stressed? 

Some common signs of a dog’s anxiety include cringing, trembling, or retreating, but owners may be less able to identify signs of fear or anxiety when behaviors are more subtle. 

Stressed dogs might, for example, pant or lick their lips. They may also turn their heads away, stiffen their bodies, and even turn their noses.

 Sometimes their ears will turn back, and their head will lower below their shoulders.

Study found that dog responses to high frequency sounds, such as beeping, were more powerful than those to low frequency sounds (such the drone of a vacuum)   

The authors state that loud noises, especially when unpredicted and indoors, can lead to intense “physiological” and behavioral fear reactions. 

Dogs that are anxious include vomiting, panting, excessive barking and howling. 

The study found that dogs responded in a variety of ways to their owners: jumping, hiding, spinning and even retreating.

The fear that dogs have of owners is underestimated by their owners. But, the majority of dog owners respond to their fears with laughter and not concern for their dog’s safety.

Concern for a pet dog was only expressed in 17.5 per cent of the videos, compared with amusement in 45.6 per cent of videos. 

The most commonly-observed owner reaction was ‘spectator’ – where they were not heard or seen interfering with the situation.

The study authors state that this behavior is “perhaps not surprising” as owners were recording the dogs presumably to post their dog’s online behaviour.  

Swedish experts investigated stress levels in two types of dogs - solitary hunting breeds and ancient dog breeds - and their owners. Pictured, a Norwegian elkhound - a type of solitary hunting breed

Swedish specialists examined stress levels in two breeds of dog – ancient dogs and solitary hunting breeds. Pictured, a Norwegian elkhound – a type of solitary hunting breed

Dogs have an even wider hearing range, so some sounds could be painful for their ears.

Grigg says that one of the easiest ways to reduce your exposure to anxious-inducing noises in the home is to change batteries frequently on smoke detectors, or to remove a dog from an area where they might make loud sounds.  

She said that dogs use their body language more than they do vocalizing and she needs to know this. 

“We love and care for them.  

Videos of dogs stressing out on perhaps the nosiest night of the year – Bonfire Night – seem to do the rounds online in the days following November 5.

Earlier this week it emerged that two dogs from separate UK households were literally scared to death by the racket last Friday. 

Dexter (pictured), 10, a Staffy Labrador cross, was found 'laid flat on the floor' in the downstairs bathroom after running scared from noisy fireworks during Bonfire Night

Dexter (10-year-old Staffy Labrador Cross) was scared of the loud bonfire night fireworks and found himself ‘laid on the ground’ in his downstairs bathroom.

Dexter (10 years old), a Staffy Labrador mix from Hemlington (North Yorkshire), was run scared by loud fireworks and later died. 

Despite his owners efforts to CPR the dog and to revive him by mouth to mouth, he died.

Ollie, an infant Lhassa Apso from Northern Ireland, succumbed to a heart attack last week.

Your vet will tell you the signs your dog may be stressed. This could include: licking their lips; pinning their ears behind and showing you “whale eyes”. 

Subtle signs of stress that an owner can miss or misinterpret are excessive panting, pacing back and forth, licking lips (when not eating or drinking) and pinning its ears back

An owner may miss subtle signs such as excessive panting or pacing, or misunderstand them.

Blue Cross, an animal charity, has advised dog owners that they should be alert for signs of stress in their dogs. This can cause behavioral problems.  

Obvious signs a dog is stressed include a loss of appetite, aggression, having its tail between its legs or backing away from someone or something, Blue Cross says. 

Subtle signs of stress that are more easily missed include excessive panting, pacing back and forth, a dog licking its lips when not eating or drinking, and pinning its ears back. 

A UK charity fears that dogs may be abandoned or sold if stress signs are mistakenly interpreted as personality defects. 

Blue Cross is also concerned that dogs might become stressed or have behavioural problems if their routines change after the Covid 19 lockdown.

Continue reading: The subtle signs your dog may be stressing out, revealed by vets