Noise sensitivity and performance study


Why are we interested in noise responses and problem solving in dogs? Everyone thinks that dogs have excellent hearing, but specific aspects of canine hearing have never been studied.  Most evaluations of hearing are done when the dog is sedated, and ask only whether the dog can hear or not.  Almost nothing is known about variation between dogs in hearing ability and how this affects the way they work with people or with other dogs. 

There is some evidence suggesting that sound sensitivity is associated with some behaviors involved in performance.  We now know that handedness – which paw the dog chooses to use most often – is not independent of the dog’s reactions to noise. 

Because we are interested in helping dogs to be as behaviorally healthy as possible, and in creating working dogs equal to any task, we have decided to expand out study on how dogs respond to noises and to further investigate problem solving in dogs. 

Part of this study involves obtaining DNA samples because there is some evidence that extremes of hearing ability may be inherited and some of the patterns of behaviors associated with extreme behavior may also be inherited. There is also a belief – as of yet without much data – that problem solving ability may be inherited. 

Finally, we also know that for many canine patients with true noise phobia, these damaging phobias run in family lines.  One of our goals is to be able to prevent or intervene early in such problems so that pet and working dogs can enjoy excellent quality of life and so that working dogs can perform optimally in their jobs and remain behaviorally healthy.

photo courtesy of  JP Grandmont

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