Common Fears and Phobias in Dogs



This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts. This was originally posted at Dog Costumes


by Kristin Nichols | April 21, 2015 | No Comments | Information


There are a number of different fears and phobias that dogs can suffer from. There are a variety of causes for these fears and phobias; often due to lack of socialization at an early age, negative experiences or even genetics. A dog can exibit a wide array of signs of these fears or phobias including; cowering, trembling, drooling, barking, destructive behavior, and even aggression.

Fear of Being Left Alone

Separation anxiety is the fear of being left home alone. Many dogs that suffer from this form of anxiety will develop destructive behaviors once their owner leaves the house. They may also bark excessively, and have accidents in the house.

If your dog suffers from a fear of being left alone it would be beneficial to change your behaviors when leaving the house. This means changing your habits and try to leave and return to your home without your dog noticing. You may also want to consider a animal behaviorist to help with desensitizing your dog, slowly getting your dog use to being left home alone.

Fear of Riding in the Car

Riding in a car can be scarey for some dogs. This is often caused by the dog not being exposed to car rides at an early age or having negative experiences in the car (getting car sick or going for a car ride to the veterinarian). You can help your dog to overcome his fear of riding in the car with a lot of positive reinforcement, giving him lots of treats and praise to get him in the car and then in time with the car moving. Always work with your dog with the help of a friend or family member when operating the vehicle.

Fear of Men

It is very common for dogs to be afraid of men. Many assume this is due to being abused, however it typically is caused by the dog not being exposed to men at a young age causing him to become fearful. To help your dog overcome his fear of men you can work with through desensitization, introducing him to men slowly in a nonthreatening manner. The dog may growl, snap, or bite someone as a result of this fear and it is important to keep the dog on a leash and controlled when introducing him to any new people, especially men.

Fear of Fireworks

Many dogs are afraid of fireworks due to the loud and unpredictable sounds and list they cause. This can cause a dog to drool and tremble in fear. For some dogs you can slowly get them use to the sound of the fireworks. However some dogs with a severe phobia to fireworks may need to be treated with an anti-anxiety medication.

Fear of the Veterinarian

The veterinarians office can be scary for many dogs. It is important to make your dogs first experience at the vet office a good one. The strange smells, being handled in a weird way, restraint and getting vaccinations can be scary. Your dogs fear of the vet can be cured by simply bringing him to the office for good visits, just to say hi and get treats from the staff to see that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Fear of Children

Children can be scarey small humans that want to some dogs, wanting to smother them with affection but scaring the dog in return. The dog can develop this fear for many reasons. Most of the time it is due to not being socialized with children when they are young, others may have had negative experiences with children. If your dog is afraid of children your should consult an animal behaviorist to work on their fear of children.

Fear of Thunderstorms

Fear of Thunderstorms is known as Astraphobia, it is extremely common in dogs and the severity of this phobia varies in each dog. Some might tremble or turn to their owner for comfort, some will hide and become destructive, losing control of their bladder or bowels. Dogs may also sense a storm when it is coming, as the pressure in climate change. Some dogs can be eased during the storm, others require medication to relieve their anxiety.

Fear of Objects

It is not uncommon for dogs to be afraid of particular objects, such as the vacuum cleaner, holiday decorations, a child’s toy. Typically this type of fear is not a big deal as the object can be moved away from the dog or only used when the dog is in his own safe place. However for dogs with a serious fear of objects it can become a huge problem. When your dog begins to tremble and become anxious it is time for help. Work with your dog slowly to show them there is not reason to fear the object, using a lot of positive reinforcement.

Fear of Strangers

Dogs who are not socialized properly can develop a fear of strangers. This can be a difficult fear to overcome, it is difficult to teach your dog to accept every new person he meets. Never force your dog to approach new people, give him his own time and give him a lot of positive attention. There is always a risk of your dog becoming aggressive with strangers, always use caution.

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