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New study shows importance of understanding dog behavior

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The importance of knowing your dog for the individual that he is

I’m a fan of all the people who choose to bring a dog into their homes and hearts. take the time to become hobbyist ethologists and spend time “fluent in the dog. “It’s really not too much to ask, because when we make that decision we become their caregivers and they assume that we have their best interests in mind from the ‘cradle to grave’ the cradle begins when we welcome them in. our lives.

Learning dog behavior, even some of the basics of why they are doing what they are doing, is not only fun, but can also be used to find out how they are feeling. It’s also a great way to learn about individual behavioral variability, even among siblings, and to use that information on behalf of the individual. Those who carefully watch, train, and treat dogs for a variety of psychological and medical conditions know that there is no individual being that we can accurately call “the dog,” and generalizations often fail when the background and personality of the dog. ‘an individual are ignored (for further discussion, please see “My own dog is a dumb, but she is a lovable idiot” and Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do).

Due to my own interests in “all things dogs” and behavior in particular, I was very happy to learn of a new study by Ana Luisa Lopes Fagundes and her colleagues entitled “Noise sensitivities in dogs: an exploration of signs in dogs with and without musculoskeletal pain using qualitative content analysis.“The entire piece is available online along with a brief and adequate easy-to-read summary titled”Dogs sensitive to noise should be regularly assessed for pain by veterinarians.“This latest trial begins:” Dogs who (sic) show fear or anxiety when faced with loud or sudden noises should be routinely assessed for pain by veterinarians, a new study has found. Noises that can trigger behavioral responses such as fear and anxiety range from ‘fireworks, thunderstorms and planes to gunshots, cars and motorcycles’.

To study the relationship between noise sensitivity and pain, researchers looked at the clinical records of 20 dogs at the University of Lincoln (UK). The dataset consisted of 10 “clinical cases” of dogs with neuromuscular pain and 10 “control cases” of dogs that did not present any pain. The two groups were similar in race and age. It is believed that noises that startle dogs can cause muscle tension, which can exacerbate pain. Principal investigator Ana Luisa Lopes Fagundes notes: “The aim of the study was to explore the presenting signs of dogs exhibiting generalized noise sensitivity with and without muscle or joint pain. We believe that dogs with this type of chronic pain can experience noise. quite differently, because if the noise makes them jump, it can cause them to contract their muscles and as a result, they experience pain associated with the noise. “

The age of onset of behavioral responses to pain is important to consider. The researchers learned that the average age of onset of noise sensitivity was almost four years later in “clinical cases”. They write: “This strong theme of an older onset age suggests that pain can develop later in life and that owners seek treatment more easily, perhaps because the appearance of the problem does not. is not characteristic of the subject. ” Knowing this means that humans have a good idea of ​​the typical behavior of their dog (s), and it means that they have carefully monitored them beforehand.

The researchers also note that a marker of pain is that dogs might generalize noise sensitivity to a larger environment, which might prompt their humans to seek medical attention. In the summary, we read: “In both cases, the early signs of the dogs behavior problem included tremors, tremors and hiding, but those with a diagnosed pain problem also showed a higher level of avoidance. high when it came to places where they had a bad experience with noise – such as trying to completely avoid a certain area in a park compared to those without pain. ”Dogs in pain also avoided other dogs. .

Control your dog: the importance of knowing your dog and supervising him carefully

Obviously, in order to know what a dog is feeling, it is essential to know him as a individual. What is loud or disturbing to one dog may not be to another dog. Among the many dogs I share my home with, there was a great variation. One couple were genuinely afraid of thunder, while some showed no response at all. One dog trembled when there were sirens, while others were unaffected at all. I noticed that as my canine companion Jethro got older he became more sensitive to sounds, and I knew he was suffering from a neuroma near the base of his tail. However, I never thought that his increased sensitivity to noise could be related to the pain he was suffering from but did not manifest behaviorally. In this sense, the researchers note: “It is also possible that the presence of a focus of musculoskeletal pain and a sound sensitivity interact to lower the thresholds of reactivity to associated stimuli.

When people take the time to become amateur ethologists and citizen scientists, they can learn skills that can truly benefit the dogs they share their lives with. It’s a win-win situation for all, and this study shows how important it is to pay close attention to behavioral changes, as they can be reliable indicators of pain that might otherwise go undiagnosed. And the good news, according to the researchers whose work I am writing, is that “the prognosis seems excellent if the case is well managed following the identification of the role of pain”.

Far too many dogs don’t get what they want and need in a human-dominated world (for more information please see “Dogs Want and Need Much More Than They Get” usually from us ”). They depend on us to know what they want and what they need, perhaps especially when they are in pain and in pain. We have to do it.

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