In a recent survey taken on the behaviourism of dogs, it came to notice that dogs that live in urban environments were observed to be more fearful than those living in rural environments.
Social fearfulness in dogs is particularly associated with fearfulness related to unfamiliar human beings and dogs.
The study was conducted at the University of Helsinki, with the help of a dataset pertaining to nearly 6,000 dogs. The dataset was selected from a larger set of data, a behavioural survey encompassing almost 14,000 dogs.
Based on the survey, inadequate socialisation of puppies to various situations and stimuli had the strongest link with social fearfulness.
From the survey, it was clear that the living environment also appears to make a difference, as dogs that live in urban environments were noticed to be more fearful than dogs living in rural environments.
Jenni Puurunen, a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki said: “This has not actually been previously investigated in dogs. What we do know is that human mental health problems occur more frequently in the city than in rural areas. However, further studies are needed before any more can be said about causes pertaining to the living environment.”
The same social fearfulness was also seen as more common among neutered females and small dogs.
In support of the research, activity is another factor associated with fearfulness
Fearful dogs were less active than bolder ones, and their owners also involved them in training and other activities significantly less often.
“Of course, the lesser activity of fearful dogs can also be down to their owners wanting to avoid exposing their dogs to stressful situations. It may be that people just are not as active with fearful dogs,” Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of HelsinkiLohi pointed out.
Furthermore, significant differences between breeds were identified in the study.
Spanish Water Dogs and Shetland Sheepdogs expressed social fearfulness the most, while Wheaten Terriers were among the bravest breeds.
The Cairn Terrier and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi expressed only a little fearfulness towards other dogs.