Inadequate Socialization, Inactivity, and Urban Living Environment Are Associated With Social Fearfulness in Pet Dogs

Scientific Journal Articles

Problematic behaviours are severe welfare issues for one of the world’s most popular pets, the domestic dog. One of the most prevalent behavioural problems that causes distress to dogs is social fearfulness, meaning fear of conspecifics or unfamiliar people. To identify demographic and environmental factors associated with fear of dogs and strangers, logistic regression was utilised with a large dataset of 6,000 pet dogs collected through an owner-filled behavioural survey. Social fearfulness was associated with several factors, including urban environment, poor socialisation during puppyhood, infrequent participation in training and other activities, small body size, female sex, and neutering. In addition, we identified several breed differences, suggesting a genetic contribution to social fearfulness. These findings highlight the role of inadequate socialisation, inactivity, and urban living environmental in fear-related behavioural problems in dogs. Improvements in the management and breeding practices of dogs could, therefore, enhance the welfare of man’s best friend.

Puurunen, J., Hakanen, E., Salonen, M.K., Mikkola, S., Sulkama, S., Araujo, C., and Lohi, H. (2020). Inadequate socialization, inactivity, and urban living environment are associated with social fearfulness in pet dogs. Nature Research: Scientific Reports, 10, 3527.


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Topic(s): Behavior, Breeder Resource, Problem Abnormal Behavior, Recognition