This research is an important step in exploring the relationship between fear or anxiety and the health and lifespan of companion dogs. As a correlational study, Dreshel adds, “we can hypothesize about the mechanisms of interaction and treatments that might be effective, but it is impossible to determine cause and effect of particular diseases and personality traits without longitudinal data.”
Over at Do You Believe in Dog?, canine welfare researcher Mia Cobb reflects on her own dog’s situation: “Over the years, we’ve developed strategies to help [my dogs] cope better with less anxiety and fear [relating to fireworks]. Most of the time, these strategies work (or maybe they are just going deaf as they get older?!).”
2. Non-social fears (like showing fearful behavior towards “noise, unfamiliar objects, traffic, storms, wind, new situations”) did not predict lifespan, but non-social fear and separation anxiety did predict both severity and presence of skin problems in adult dogs.
Now it’s in your court. Dogs who are sound-sensitive or fearful of strangers are not necessarily set in their ways. Living with a dog who displays fearful behavior doesn’t mean we just throw up our hands and say, “Sucks to be you!”
Nancy Dreschel, a veterinarian and animal science researcher at Penn State University, set out to investigate the ‘So What?’ aspect of fear and anxiety. Does living with fearfulness or anxiety have “negative effects on health and lifespan in the domestic dog”?