New study to look at dog behaviour and fireworks

New study to look at dog behaviour and fireworks

Researchers are calling for dog owners to be part of a study this New Year’s Eve into how fireworks and loud noises affect dogs.

Conducted by Dogs Trust in partnership with the University of Salford, the research combines the university’s specialist knowledge in acoustics and the charity’s expertise in dog behaviour.

Both dog owners and non-dog owners are invited to take part in the study by completing a complete a short survey, available from 31 December 2022 to 8 January 2023.

The research aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the relationship between dog behaviour and features of fireworks, as well as the methods that dog owners use to try to mask the sound of fireworks.

Dogs Trust said that the findings will give its canine behaviour experts valuable insight for guidance to dog owners, and inform its policy recommendations around fireworks use.

“Nearly half of dogs in the UK are estimated to be negatively affected by fireworks,” explained Dr Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka, canine behaviour research studies manager at Dogs Trust. “To build on our expert advice to support owners on how to help their dogs cope with the noise of fireworks, we need to develop an in-depth understanding of different dog behaviours in response to hearing fireworks. This includes how different acoustic features of fireworks impact dogs.”

At present there is little information or research into this area, said Dr Zuzanna Podwinska, a leader on the project from the Acoustics Research Centre at the University of Salford.

“Dogs can get very distressed by fireworks so anything we can do to make the experience better for them, can only be a good thing.

“There are indications that dogs may be sensitive to sounds that humans can’t hear, so we are interested to find out if it’s not just the loudness of the fireworks or their sound level, but other acoustic characteristics.”

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