Dogs are often surrendered or abandoned because of behavioral issues related to fear. A recent large-scale study investigated four of the most common canine fears and drew conclusions based on their findings. While the insights are useful, the conclusions may not be what they seem.

In a recent study undertaken in Finland, researchers collected data from nearly 14,000 dogs, including thousands of dogs who are afraid of the following things: fireworks, thunder, novel situations, and various surfaces or heights—what are known as non-social fears. (Social fears, a second category, refers to fears related to other dogs or people.) Previous research by the same group had found that a large percentage of dogs are affected by one or more of these non-social fears.

The new study, “Active and social life is associated with lower non-social fearfulness in pet dogs,” noted that dogs who…

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