Scaredy-Dog: Common Dog Fears

Dog fears can manifest in aggressive dog behavior

Dogs and humans go back a long way. Our ancient ancestors first met over 14,000 years ago, and since then, we’ve enjoyed a (mostly) happy coexistence. In fact, our history is so tightly linked, it can feel as though our dogs truly understand us, and we understand them.

However, some dogs display truly strange quirks, such as being frightened by harmless objects, sounds, people, or places. Dog fears can range from merely being startled by a foreign object to having a full blown panic attack at the first sound of thunder. Keep reading to learn more about dog fears and what you can do to help manage them.

Why All the Hubbub?

Because dogs are both pack animals and individuals, the reasons behind their fears can vary considerably. In some cases, events that occur during puppyhood can turn into lifelong fears. Dogs also watch and respond to the emotions of their owners, meaning they may pick up some of our fears and phobias along the way.

Common Dog Fears

Many dogs are frightened by thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises. Some dogs get so worked up over a thunderstorm that a few drops of rain or even a change in barometric pressure can trigger a strong reaction. Other common (and not-so-common) dog fears include:

  • Vacuum cleaners – The loud noise and sudden movements of a vacuum can trigger the urge to defend their owners/territory.
  • Children – If your dog has had negative experiences with children in the past or has had a lack of exposure to them during puppyhood, this fear can crop up.
  • Strangers – For dogs with a fear of strangers, every unknown human is a possible threat to the safety of their “pack.”
  • Men – Even dogs who weren’t abused by a man in the past may still be afraid of males due to improper socialization.
  • Hats/sunglasses – Dogs with this fear may feel wary or uncomfortable due to the fact that hats and sunglass can obscure a person’s face, making them appear to be “hidden.”  
  • Animated or talking toys – Many dogs don’t realize that a talking or noise-making toy is fake and may view it as a danger.
  • Flies/insects – Some dogs fear or intensely dislike insects for the same reasons people do: they’re annoying, unpredictable, and many bite!
  • Strange objects – Pets in general tend to be creatures of habit, and certain dogs are easily alarmed by any object that appears out of place, such as construction cones, brooms, or piles of laundry.

When Good Fears Go Bad

In most cases, desensitization tactics that utilize positive reinforcement can be used to help a dog overcome their fear. If your pet has fear or aggression towards people, always consult with a certified dog trainer for safety purposes.
Sometimes, what starts out as a simple fear can progress into a full blown phobia. If your dog experiences extreme or uncontrollable reactions or if you notice a significant personality change over time, please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates for help. We’re always here for you and your pet!