Almost three-quarters of pet dogs suffer from at least one anxiety-related disorder, research suggests.
Loud noise, mainly from fireworks and thunder, was found to be the biggest cause of canine stress.
The findings are based on survey data that analysed the behaviour of 13,700 pet dogs in Finland covering 264 breeds.
The researchers are calling on dog breeders to take action to improve canine mental health.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers said: “As anxiety can impair welfare and problematic behaviour may be an indication of poor welfare, efforts should be made to decrease the prevalence of these canine anxieties.
“Breeding policies may help to improve dog welfare, as could changes in the living environment.”
A team led by Hannes Lohi, from the University of Helsinki, focused on several anxiety-related traits, including fear, noise sensitivity, aggression, separation problems and compulsive behaviour.
Almost 73% of the dogs surveyed showed some form of anxiety disorder and related anti-social behaviour such as barking.
And nearly a third of dogs showed high sensitivity to at least one noise, with fireworks and thunder high on the list.
Fear was found to be the second most common anxiety, found in 29% of dogs.
Compared with older dogs, younger ones showed more stress when left alone by damaging or urinating on items.
Noise sensitivity, along with fear of heights and smooth surfaces, was found to increase with age.
The team also looked at particular breeds, and found Spanish water dogs, Shetland dogs and mixed breeds were the most fearful, while lagotto Romagnolo, wheaten terrier and mixed breeds were seen to be the most noise sensitive.
Female dogs were typically more fearful than male dogs, while the male counterparts were found to be more aggressive and hyperactive.
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