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
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