Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Why do many dogs appear to have an innate fear of bangs? © Getty Images

Why do many dogs appear to have an innate fear of bangs?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Asked by: Nick Tupper, Alton

Loud, unexpected bangs are frightening for most animals – including us. Loud noises generally mean a violent, high-energy event is nearby, so whether it’s a falling tree, a lightning strike or the roar of a large animal, loud tends to mean dangerous.


Really loud bangs, like fireworks, are actually painful for dogs, since their hearing is so sensitive. But even more importantly, fireworks are an unexplained threat that appears to come from multiple directions at once.

A 2015 study at Oslo University found that older dogs tend to be more scared of bangs, which suggests that rather than becoming desensitised, repeated exposure has the opposite effect. Some dog experts advise giving dogs treats or a special toy during thunderstorms and firework displays, so they learn to associate the bangs with a happy event. The Oslo study also found that noise sensitivity varies among breeds, with collies and schnauzers among the most fearful.

Read more:



luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


Sponsored content