Do you come home to find your dog has destroyed your favorite shoes and urinated all on the carpet? Does your puppy seem to be glued to your ankles the moment you step in the house? Do you have a hard time getting your pooch into the car? What in the world is going on? The answer is likely fear. Fear in dogs is more common than you may realize. Since your pet can’t verbalize what’s going on with them, they start acting out in ways you might find unusual. Most owners mistake it for disobedience, but the truth is your dog is just scared.
Some owners look at their dogs as protectors, so to see their pets cowering in the corner, whimpering, urinating, destroying property, or looking depressed is rather confusing. Something has lowered their esteem. The only way to boost confidence in your puppy or dog is to find out what’s got them spooked. Here’s a look at a few common dog fears to consider:
Dogs need love, affection, and attention. When they feel there is a void in those areas they start to feel alone. Separation anxiety is a mental health disorder in dogs. It is an extreme fear of being alone or without their owner’s attention. They may act irrationally by destroying things and following you around excessively when you get home.
Hearing noises like fireworks or thunder in a rainstorm may startle you at first, but being aware of what the sound is quickly helps your fears and anxieties to subside. For a dog, this isn’t as easy. Hearing loud sounds can trigger symptoms of a panic attack and be very traumatic.
Dogs who have gone through traumatic or negative experiences in their lives will often show signs of fear when triggered. For example, an adopted dog who was once abused may duck and cower every time you raise your hand (even though you had no intention of harming them).
Humans and dogs alike have a fear of the unknown. When your dog is introduced to a new person, place, or animal, it’s unfamiliar to them and, therefore, may present some challenges.
How to Help
You know what it’s like to be afraid. To feel out of control, inferior, scared, unsure of what to do next. The feelings can be catastrophic and detrimental to your well-being. Being able to relate to your canine in this way can make it easier for you to provide assistance. Once you’ve determined what those fears are, you can begin to apply practices such as these below to help them thrive:
- If your dog is struggling with being alone, try to keep your dog entertained while you’re away with some of their favorite toys. You might also consider getting another dog or cat to keep each other company.
- Wondering how to calm a dog during storms or firework presentations? Try occupying your dog with some fun activities. Getting their minds off the noises can help them to realize there’s nothing to be afraid of.
- Unfortunately, if your dog is traumatized by a negative past, you can’t changed what happened. You can, however, reinforce their confidence by opening up and showing compassion at a pace your dog is comfortable with. If necessary, a visit to a behavior specialist may help as well.
- If fear of the unknown is what’s got your dog spooked you should practice patience. Give your dog as much control as possible such as allowing them to walk over to the new person or pet and sniff them. Interactions may need to be done in doses so that your dog doesn’t become overwhelmed.
Dogs get scared too. If you notice that your dog is misbehaving, fearful, distant, or depressed, their fears could be deeper than you realize. First identify what triggers the fear and panic for your dog, then create a plan to help them overcome those fears. Bringing home a new companion, speaking with a behavioral specialist, or finding fun ways to take their minds off of things are just a few of the ways you can help boost your dog’s confidence and face those fears.