Your confident pawed baby started to act oddly.
Fido keeps on pacing, trembling, and attempts to hide.
It seems that their fear suddenly creeps up.
Wondering why they act like that?
Read this article to find out:
- 7 things to do to help your fearful pooch.
- Common life-threatening illnesses that cause a dog’s fear.
- 15 unexpected reasons why your dog is scared of everything.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
Why is my dog scared of everything all of a sudden?
Your dog is scared of everything all of a sudden due to noises, inactivity, trauma, animals, uncomfortable situations, mimicry, punishment, lack of socialization, genetics, or a new environment. They could also have separation anxiety, sickness, injury, phobia, or canine cognitive dysfunction.
15 reasons why your dog is scared of everything all of a sudden
#1: Loud unexpected noises
Does your dog’s fear arise when there’s a sudden noise?
This is common in the canine world.
It all boils down to their sensitive hearing. Dogs can hear higher frequencies than humans.
People can only hear frequencies below 20,000 Hertz. While dogs can hear 47,000 to 65,000 Hertz.
Actually, Fido can even hear termites vibrating on walls. So, what seems to be silence to us might be noisy for canines.
Their wolf ancestors even used this before for their advantage. Hearing their prey’s sound and movement was their tool for survival.
However, what benefited them in the past is what tortures them today. Loud noises in today’s world are everywhere.
There are a lot of outside ones that happen unpredictably. Such as fireworks and thunder. Dogs will fear noises that are piercing their ears.
But your dog might still be scared even in the comfort of your home.
Because there’s also noises from your home items. From the alarm clocks in the morning. Down to appliances such as the washing machine, vacuum, and blender.
Those things make our lives easier. But dogs can’t understand that. So it’s normal for canines to fear them. The unfamiliarity of it to doggos is what causes that feeling.
Mind you, uncertainty is considered a threat. Or something to be feared in dogs.
Research suggests that a dog’s fearful behavior occurs when there’s a sound of:
- TV noises.
Has your pooch been inactive lately?
If so, that could be the reason why they’re fearful.
Study shows that inactivity causes fearfulness in 6,000 domestic dogs.
But what do all of these dogs have in common?.
They all live in an urban environment.
Life in the city will cost you your time. Working and attending to your family’s needs are a handful. Plus, there’s a lot of leisure activities around you.
So, it’s understandable that dog parents may get caught up with chores. But it’s a must to make time to take care of Fido’s well-being. Little to no exercise will be bad for them.
When you leave your pawed baby for work, think about what they do at home.
They might just be sleeping. Or playing with their toys alone.
But being a couch potato doesn’t benefit dogs. On the contrary, a lifestyle full of sitting, eating, and lying down will only cause fear and anxiety.
That’s because your pooch won’t have anything better to occupy their mind with.
#3: Improper socialization
Did your fur baby go through a proper socialization stage?
Socialization is a crucial part of a growing pup’s life.
It makes them familiar and aware of their surroundings. And when done right, it also creates a happy, fearless, and confident Fido.
People may think that letting their dog socialize will be enough.
But little do they know that over-exposure will affect dogs badly too.
“How will I know that my pup is over-exposed?”
This could be the case if you let your dog out without limits. Letting them play and be with others all they want.
Basically spoiling them with social interaction.
Also, over-exposing your scared dog to social stimuli may cause extra stress.
Keep in mind that some dogs get reactive when in distress. As a result, that will make a fearful dog aggressive.
What would happen is they won’t get used to socializing. In their head, they’ll perceive some people and dogs as a threat. As a result, your pooch would snap and try to fight them off.
Another possible thing that makes a dog fearful is a painful past.
Did something bad happen to your pooch before?
A canine with a traumatic past will have some fears. If the dog experiences an even similar to the traumatic one, their fear will be triggered.
For example, a dog who’s experienced being punched in the face. That pooch will develop hand shyness. They’ll fear any hands that will approach them.
It’s because the hand approaching their face is a trauma trigger. It reminds the pooch of the pain they felt before. They’ll also think that any hands near their face will punch them.
Aside from that, trauma may also be caused by:
- Dog fighting.
- Car accidents.
- Household accidents.
Signs of trauma in dogs are:
- Tucked tail.
- Pinned back ears.
#5: Other animals
Are there other dogs or animals around?
A dog might be scared of other animals if they haven’t seen them before. Seeing a pet hamster. Or a spider for the first time is an example.
“O.K, but… my dog fears their own kind. Why?”
Your pawed child may fear other dogs because of a bad experience.
Let’s say they might’ve fought other dogs before. It’s possible that they’ve been hurt or had an injury because of it.
As a result, they’ll fear the sight or presence of other dogs. They might be thinking that the same thing will happen again.
#6: Uncomfortable situations
Notice when exactly your fur baby’s fear shows up.
Is it before bath time?
When going to the vet?
Or is it when they’re about to ride your car?
There are a lot of uncomfortable situations for dogs. It also varies for every dog but what’s common is taking a bath.
A friend of mine has a Japanese Spitz. His name’s Chamby.
He’s a happy and protective pooch. But when it’s bath time?
Oh no! The sight of his shampoo and bath soap triggers his fear. It makes him cower and tremble all of a sudden.
And when his fur mom removes his collar?
He drops to the ground and covers his face. But we know that a bath is necessary. So what his fur mom does is carry him to the tub.
Then, Chamby freezes during his bath. And he only comes back to being lively when he’s completely dry.
It’s clear to see that Chamby fears the discomfort of taking a bath.
Now, a dog may also fear a car ride. Pooches may feel motion sickness during it. Particularly if they’re not used to it. And if they have to be crated but they didn’t undergo crate training.
You might also like: Why Your Dog Drools In The Car? 5 True Reasons + 7 Easy Tips
#7: New environment
A sudden change in your dog’s surroundings may cause fear.
Let’s say you live in the countryside. Then you decided one day to bring your dog to the city.
A pooch who faces a completely new place will show behavioral change.
Your dog will probably be overwhelmed by the new environment. Think about the difference between urban and rural places.
Compare the look of grass and trees to the tall buildings and vehicles. The sound of the city to the sound of the country. Also, the number of people and animals there.
There’s a great difference between the two, right?
Fear is a dog’s natural response to the places they’re not used to. This also applies to switching apartments. Your dog will need some time to adjust from one place to the other.
#8: Separation anxiety
A dog’s fear of being alone mostly occurs when their human leaves.
Having a strong human-dog bond is great. It creates a harmonious way of living for the pup and dog parent.
But not until you leave them. May it be for work, groceries, or even taking a shower.
A pup who’s used to being with fur parents will fear being alone. They’ll be in distress the moment you’re away. Your pooch will constantly seek for you.
On the contrary, another cause of separation anxiety is neglect.
This happens if your pup has been abandoned before. A neglected dog who found a new dog parent will be fearful.
They’ll think that you’re going to leave them forever. Just like what their previous keeper did.
A dog with separation anxiety might show signs such as:
Check out next: 5 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Anxious + 11 Tips
It’s natural for a dog to act fearful when they’re sick.
The reason for that is dogs can’t understand why they feel unwell. So they’ll respond to their pain with fear.
According to AVMA, there are common illnesses that occur in dogs.
This condition refers to a very contagious and deadly virus.
Distemper can transfer from dog to dog through air particles. It happens when a healthy dog inhales contaminated air from an infected dog.
A dog that’s infected by canine distemper will have:
- Snotty nose.
- Runny eyes.
Canine influenza virus causes dogs to have:
- Snotty nose.
This condition is also contagious. It may happen through contamination of:
Warning: Canine Influenza virus remains on surfaces for 2 days. While 1 day on clothing and 12 hours on a human’s hands.
Just like the previous illnesses, canine parvovirus is contagious. This virus attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal system.
Canine parvovirus causes:
- Severe bloody diarrhea.
Warning: The virus remains on the ground for years. Making the virus easy to spread.
Aside from that, the contagion may happen through direct contact with the infected:
Being fearful is a common response of a dog when they’re hurt.
Injury may happen due to accidents. But it can also be brought on by physical abuse.
Touching your pooch when they’re injured will worsen their pain. As a result, they’ll show fearful behavior such as hiding.
Watch out for signs of injury such as:
- Loss of appetite.
- Difficulty to move.
- Altered breathing.
- Excessive self-licking.
#11: You’re fearful too
How are you feeling?
Are you afraid?
If so, that could be the reason why your dog’s scared.
Your canine best friend knows what your true feelings are. What’s more, is they can adopt your emotions.
“How is this possible?”
It’s through your pawed baby’s powerful sense of smell.
Researcher Biagio D’Aniello conducted an experiment with dogs. It was to see if dogs can detect their person’s emotion through smell.
100 dog parents went through the tests. They’re made to watch a video that’ll affect their emotions. After watching the video they could either feel neutral, fearful, or happy.
The dogs were then exposed to their fur parents.
The results showed that dogs were more affected by 1 emotion. Canines that were exposed to the smell of fear are more stressed than others.
So, you might consider reflecting on your own emotions first. Because your dog’s fear might be just a mirror of your feelings.
Some things cause irrational and persistent fear in dogs. I’m talking about phobias.
“How does canine phobia develop?”
Phobia starts to occur due to a lack of exposure or negative experiences.
It commonly comes from what dogs see as danger. And when something’s dangerous, they’ll constantly avoid it.
Let’s take a look at the story of Akira as an example.
Akira is a pooch who lives in Arizona. Things get hard for Akira during monsoon season there.
Because Akira is a storm-phobic dog. Living in Arizona means that there are a lot of thunderstorms. Especially in July.
Her phobia gets triggered when the rain is pouring. And it gets really bad when the thunder is banging. The storm makes Akira whine and shakes uncontrollably.
But here’s the thing: Akira was a stray dog.
She’s been on the streets for 2 years before she got adopted. Her previous experiences are a factor in her storm phobia.
Akira lived her life without shelter during a storm before. She may have experienced being soaking wet for hours. While thunder and lightning were flashing in the sky.
That experience could be the reason why she has a storm phobia. As a result, her fear will creep up when she senses rain.
Common phobias in dogs are fear of:
Fact: Did you know that fear affects your pooch’s health and lifespan? A study suggests that 16% of dogs die due to fear-related causes. While 3% of them developed health problems.
#13: Negative punishment
Some dogs can be hard to train at times. They may also do their business on your carpet.
As a result, some people get mad. It may get on their nerves and they get mad about it.
So, what do these dog keepers do?
Sadly, some people think punishing a ‘bad dog’ will correct the unwanted behaviors.
It may seem like it. But it only makes the dog stop doing the behavior now. For the meantime.
However, the pooch will probably do it again. Because that doesn’t really teach the dog what’s right.
Guess how that affects dogs instead.
Punishment only teaches them to be scared of you. The poor dog will think that you’re just hurting them.
And that produces a fearful dog. In the worst cases, they’ll be traumatized.
Here’s what is considered as punishment in dogs:
- Pulling on a dog’s collar.
- Intimidating using a finger.
- Throwing objects at the dog.
- Using electric shock devices.
Did you know that fear may be influenced by DNA?
A research was conducted on 120 Great Danes. The results say that the genes determine a dog’s fearfulness.
With this in mind, it’s best to have a matter of breeding choices. Or you may track your pup’s bloodline.
See if either of your dog’s biological parents were:
- Severely injured.
#15: Canine cognitive dysfunction
Fear may also be due to mental alteration.
Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is common in senior dogs. But it may also occur at any age.
PetMD says that CCD develops when a dog’s brain cells decrease. Which affects brain functions and causes behavioral change.
Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction are:
- Extreme irritability.
- Slow to learn new tasks.
- Decreased desire to play.
- Inability to follow familiar routes.
- Forgets training and house rules.
You may also be interested in: Why do dogs act crazy all of a sudden? 17 reasons, dangers & tips
My dog is scared of everything. What can I do? 7 tips
#1: Control your temper
Being calm during your dog’s fearful moments is helpful.
This way you’re decreasing the chance of influencing your dog’s emotions. As I’ve previously mentioned, they can mimic your feelings.
Aside from that, it’s a must to not be mad at pooches. Or punish them for being scared.
Another thing is never to force your dog to face their fears. Because some dogs get fearfully aggressive if that happens.
Exposing your dog to their fear should be done in the right manner. You can do it by…
#2: Recognize your dog’s fear triggers
You’ll need to do a keen observation.
Observe when exactly your dog’s fear shows.
For example, a dog starts to act fearful only when there are strangers around. Therefore, strangers are the pup’s fear trigger.
Watch out for signs of fearfulness in your dog such as:
- Lip licking.
- Flattened ears.
- Raised hackles.
- Avoiding eye contact.
- Tail tucked between the hind legs.
Check out: Why does my dog bark at certain people? 17 must-read reasons & 5 tips
After successfully recognizing fear triggers, you may proceed to…
Desensitization is a gradual exposure to a phobia’s trigger. It’s a process in which dogs get used to their fear triggers over time.
Here’s how you’ll do it:
- Bring your dog to a room/place without disturbance and obstruction. It must be quiet, free from toys or other people.
- Expose your dog to their phobia trigger. Only at the lowest level. Let’s take storm phobia as an example. Play the sound of thunder on your phone at a low volume.
- Let your dog be exposed to it for 5 minutes for a start.
- Watch how your dog reacts to it. Showing calmness will be your go signal to move on.
- Gradually increase the thunder sound’s volume. You may also go with a longer duration of exposure.
- Keep increasing your dog’s exposure to fear triggers. Only if they don’t react to it with fearfulness.
Counterconditioning is another useful technique to treat phobias.
It makes dogs associate a negative situation with positive emotions. Which can be achieved through their most loved rewards.
“How will I do it?”
If your dog’s fear starts to show, give them a yummy treat. It could be chicken, flavored snacks, or dog cookies.
By doing that, you’re making your dog respond differently to their fear. Their reaction turns into a positive one. They’ll soon get used to the feeling and will diminish their fear.
#5: Positive reinforcement
We now know why punishment isn’t effective.
So, it’s best to avoid it. Positive reinforcement is the best substitute. This is a type of behavioral training through a reward system.
How does this work?
First, you must understand that you only reward the desirable behavior. And ignore the unwanted one. The reason for that is dogs repeat a rewarded behavior.
So reward your dog if they’re being obedient. And ignore them if they don’t.
Here’s what you can use as a reward:
#6: Be patient
Now that you have options on how to treat your dog’s fear. It’s time to bring your patience with you.
Don’t expect that your pooch will get over their fears instantly.
This journey will be long. It’ll never be the same for every dog. Some may take longer than others.
On average, it takes about 4 to 6 months. But some took years before finally recovering from their fear.
But there’s hope. Just take a look at how Mike surpasses being fearful:
#7: Seek professional help
Fear that is due to medical causes will need to be taken to the vet. This is to give treatment to your dog right away. Plus, it’s easier to diagnose what’s the cause of your pup’s fear.
Veterinarians may also prescribe medications for fear and anxiety.
Also, you may consider getting help from a dog trainer. Particularly for pooches who’re fearfully aggressive.
Further reading:19 Proven Ways To Calm Your Anxious Dog (How-To Guide)