A new study conducted by animal behavior scientists from the United Kingdom and Brazil found that dogs who show fear or anxiety when faced with loud or sudden noises, such as those produced by vacuum cleaners, could actually be in pain.
The researchers were particularly interested in dogs who developed a sensitivity to loud noises over time. Researchers discovered that those dogs weren’t just afraid of loud noises—they also had associated musculoskeletal pain.
The researchers believe that the pain could be exacerbated when a sudden loud noise makes the dogs tense up or jump, placing extra stress on already inflamed muscles or joints, causing even more pain.
The study suggested that a dog’s fear or anxiety about noise could mean he’s learned to associate loud noise with pain—like a dog who didn’t used to run away from vacuum cleaners, but now he does.
Other noise triggers included fireworks, thunderstorms, airplanes, gunshots, cars, and motorcycles. The dogs with musculoskeletal pain also started to be triggered by noises much later in life than the control group.
According to the researchers, veterinarians should give any dog with a noise-related behavior issue a thorough physical exam to determine if pain is a factor.
Once that pain is diagnosed and treated, the behavior issue can be addressed.
And the vacuuming can resume.