Why Is My Dog Acting Scared? Faqs Answered With Tips

Why Is My Dog Acting Scared? FAQs Answered With Tips

Being a dog parent is undoubtedly intriguing. It doesn’t take long for us to bond with a dog, and you can’t resist that they quickly own an important place in your family. Most dog owners ask us, “why is my dog acting scared and afraid?”. So we thought of discussing it.

I am a huge dog lover, and I have two amazing dogs. A dog means a lot to their family, as I have two of them at home; I know how relevant this is.

When your dog indicates unusual behavior, this will certainly make dog owners worried. Suppose your dog is acting scared; you will wonder if something is wrong with your beloved pet. 

So, why is your dog acting scared? Dogs act scared due to several reasons. Some of the common causes are separation anxiety, traumatic experiences, illnesses, phobias, poor socialization, and age-related issues. If you are a dog owner who came across this concern, here’s the most straightforward answer I could give. 

It is essential to know that there isn’t one fixed reason behind the scared behavior of your dog. But as a dog owner, if you pay sufficient attention to your dog, it won’t be hard for you to figure out why your dog acts scared.

Read this article to find helpful answers to frequently asked questions related to the main topic. Let’s get started!

Why is my dog acting scared?

As commented earlier, several reasons could make a dog act scared. So let’s look at some of the common ones in detail. 

  • Anxiety 

A dog could go through anxiety in different ways. If you get yourself a new puppy, you will probably see that the puppy act scared in the first few days.

That is because of the separation anxiety after leaving the litter. This is a prevalent condition among newborn puppies, but it will go away in a few days as they get used to the new family.

A grown dog could also get anxiety if they get separated from their owners or left alone for a long time.

Other than that, loud, uncomfortable noises or past traumatic experiences could also cause anxiety in dogs, leading them to act scared.

  • Phobia 

Phobias also could make a dog act scared. There’s a fine line between phobias and anxiety. Simply put, a phobia is considered a type of anxiety disorder.

In other words, they act out anxiously in specific scenarios. It is not easy to point out what exactly gives dogs phobias; it differs from one dog to another, but usually, strangers, fireworks, small kids, stairs, and inanimate objects could make dogs scared. 

  • Health Concerns 

Mental and physical health issues are also possible reasons behind your dog’s scared behavior.

Suppose the dog undergoes some sort of a mental illness, for instance, depression or any other physical illness. In that case, it will cause pain and discomfort in them.

When dogs are sick, they seek comfort; therefore, they are most likely to act scared. 

Why is my dog acting scared all of a sudden?

Imagine a situation where your dog acts scared suddenly; that would definitely bother you. As discussed, dogs could act scared for various reasons, but if they act scared out of nowhere unexpectedly, here are some possible reasons for it.

One of the reasons behind your dog’s sudden scared behavior could be an illness. When a dog is sick, they look for more care and attention than usual; in other words, they require some reassurance that they are taken care of by their owners.

Hence due to the discomfort they get from the sickness, they will act scared. Apart from that, if your dog faces a sudden traumatic or a bad experience, that also could lead to scary behavior.

Furthermore, if the owners follow harmful or harsh training methods to train dogs, it will negatively impact the dog, ultimately causing fear. 

Why is my dog acting scared of me?

No dog owner would anticipate their dog to be scared of them, but there are instances where it happens. Though it feels bizarre to you, it is common among many dogs during different stages in their life. 

Age is one of the typical reasons a dog acts scared of its owners. Puppies usually act scared of their owners; hence they have very little experience in socializing. So if your new puppy acts that way, it’s not an abnormal condition.

Also, dogs get scared of owners or people when they are in their senior age, but this doesn’t necessarily mean every dog acts scared of their owners once they are old.

Dogs also have different mental capacities, so they express emotions differently. So some older dogs could act scared of owners where others do not.

If you adopt a rescued dog, it will take quite a time for them to get used to the new background, so they are likely to act scared of their owners.

And as mentioned before, if you keep giving harsh punishments to the dog, that will also make them scared of you.

Why is my dog acting scared and shaking?

Sometimes you may notice your dog is shaking while acting in a scared way. And here are some reasons behind that awkward behavior.

As we already comprehensively discussed, anxiety, phobias, and depression could make a dog act scared.

Such mental conditions cause fear, and they might express it by trembling and acting weird. If you properly treat your dog with compassion, the dog could overcome it.

Still, if you feel the dog keeps acting scared and shaking for a long time, it is better to consult a veterinarian. Besides mental health concerns, physical health concerns also cause fear and trembling in dogs.

To be more precise, if the dog is nauseated or suffers from Cushing’s disease, a bad stomach could result in odd behavior, including shaking.

Also, as a dog grows old, their bodies get naturally weakened, which could cause such behavior.

Another possible reason behind fear and shaking is extreme environmental conditions, to elaborate heat exhaustion or heat strokes.

Remember, if you see severe signs other than acting scared and shaking, such as vomiting, excessive salivation, or a racing heart, you must take the dog to a vet because it might be a critical reason, such as being poisoned.

It seems my dog was suddenly scared of something in the house. What could be?

Firstly all dog owners should understand that not all dogs have the same mental conditions. Yet, it’s common for dogs to get scared of things suddenly.

If your dog suddenly starts acting afraid of something in the house, you might wonder what it could be. If you are observant enough, you can identify what scares your dog.

It is said that dogs could oddly develop fear for household objects such as blenders, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and lawnmowers, mainly due to their noise.

Suppose that your dog recently came across a bad experience with an object in your house. For instance, if the dog falls down the staircase, the dog will likely be scared of the stairs.

Furthermore, they could be afraid of sparkling objects, objects with strong smells, and so on, but not all the dogs get scared of such things as mentioned; it varies from one to the other. 

How can I help my scared dog?

We learned that dogs could act scared for several reasons throughout this article. As dog owners, you can take action to help your pet to overcome their fears.

If you feel like your dog is scared of something, the easiest and most important thing you should do is comfort and make your dog feel safe.

Firstly you have to pay attention to what causes fear in your dog and then accordingly make an environment where your dog feels safe.

Also, try to comfort them by cuddling and being gentle with them. Not all dogs require medical treatments to overcome fear, but you can provide them medications if needed.

Sometimes you may think if you force your dog to face their fears, they will fade away, but that is not something wise to do.

If you keep pushing your dog to do things or be around things they are afraid of, things could worsen.

Let them overcome the phobias on their own; you should provide the necessary emotional support and comfort to the dog rather than forcing them to face the fears.

Sometimes you will feel stressful handling a scared dog. But as owners, you have to have good patience.

If you feel like things are getting out of your hand though you try, it is perfectly fine to seek professional help. 

Final thoughts

This article answered some of the frequently asked questions regarding why dogs act scared. Your pet dog could indicate scared behavior because of several reasons. Sometimes it happens due to unavoidable reasons such as age.

Also, such behavior occurs due to health concerns and incidents that your pet has faced. Or even based on the way that you treat them.

However, the bottom line is that not all dogs get scared of the same thing or incident; it varies.

And as owners, it is your responsibility to pay attention to the dog and tackle the reason behind their scary behavior. That way, you can easily take appropriate actions and make the dog feel better.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts.


  • Dominic Parker

    Dominic P. is a dog behavioral researcher who graduated from the University of Surrey and holds BVMsi (Hons) in Veterinary Medicine and Science. He has been around dogs since childhood and has unconditional love for dogs. It makes him become a researcher instead of practicing as a veterinarian. Dominic enjoys his work and likes to share his findings with dog parents to give them a better understanding of dogs’ behaviors.

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