Dogs communicate with us through their behavior and body language. Depending on the situation, the position of your dog’s tail or a simple bark might speak volumes about how your dog is feeling. It’s very important to know when you have a scared dog on your hands. Fearful dogs simply trying to defend themselves can often be mistaken for aggressive dogs- so as a responsible pet parent, you need to learn how to interpret your dog’s signals. A dog exhibiting fear symptoms should be easy to catch, so we are going to spend this post showing you how to identify a scared dog. We will also tell you some of the reasons you might have your dog suddenly scared of you, and things you can do to help if your dog is scared of you.
If your dog is a rescue dog, it’s going to take a while to earn that dog’s trust. Not only have they had a previous owner, but you don’t know how that previous owner treated your pup. A timid rescue dog is nothing to worry about, since they might need to heal from emotional trauma or past abuse. It’s going to take some time since a scared rescue dog will need to warm up to a new doggy parent at their own pace. We’ll talk more about this a bit later.
If your dog is one that flinches or backs away from you for no apparent reason, it could only mean one thing: they’re scared of you. With a scared dog on your hands, it’s important to know how to properly treat a frightened dog. As dog lovers, we don’t want our dogs feeling that way towards us and we try whatever we can to prevent it. But many dogs can end up very afraid from things like loud noises or fireworks, even their owner’s body language. Even if you have no control over what triggers your dog’s fearful behavior, you can learn some counter conditioning and help alleviate your dog’s fear.
So, if you’re someone who is going through the same situation with your dog, then this post is for you! We will give you the signs that can help you determine if your dog is scared of you, as well as the reasons why your dog might be scared of you. We will discuss how to help address fear in most dogs, too. And as a bonus, we’ll advise you on different methods to prevent your dog from getting scared of you in the first place.
How to Know if My Dog is Scared of Me
Some of the actions that we perform daily might seem normal to us, but our dogs might interpret them differently. Since we might be completely unaware that we are sending signals to our dogs, recognizing the signs from their behavior and body language is key to avoiding having a fearful dog. The bottom line is that you need to understand why your dog might act scared towards you. As dog owners, we don’t want our own habits to upset our dogs! That means you need to watch for your dog’s reactions to your own behavior. Then you can address your own behavior and change it so that you don’t upset your dog.
So here are the common signs that your dog is scared of you. These signs may include, but are not limited to:
- Keeping a distance from you, dog backs up when you are near or dog sees you and leaves room or wants to go outside
- Avoiding eye contact, shying away after direct eye contact
- Tail tucked between the legs
- Flattened ears
- Lots of scratching
- Licking its lips
- Raised hair by the back of their neck
- Excessive yawning (due to boredom or lack of interaction)
- Acting jumpy and alert to any movement (especially to the person they could be scared of)
- Refusing to accept treats or eat food (in the presence of the person they might be scared of)
Some of these behaviors are subtle signs, while others make it pretty clear that you are causing fear for your dog. Sometimes you have an emotional response to a negative situation and your dog picks up on it, becoming scared. There’s nothing you can do to avoid things like that- we are only human and we want the best life for ourselves and our dogs. Sometimes we get a bit frustrated and it can’t be helped. Usually if your dog gets a big scared seeing you angry, your pup will forgive you after a belly rub or some dog treats.
Dogs act like their owners, for the most part. But if your dog has poor socialization and your dog associates you with negative experiences, then its stress hormones could be out of control, and you could have a scared dog on your hands.
Reasons Why My Dog is Scared of Me
There are some significant reasons why a dog might be scared of you right off the bat. Dogs can get scared in unfamiliar environments and around unfamiliar people. This all depends on their breed, and the kind of environment they were raised in, and the way their owner treats them.
Without further delay, here are some of the biggest reasons why your dog is scared of you:
First and foremost, if your dog is shy in nature, there’s a good chance they might resist their loved ones or visitors. Scared dogs and shy dogs are different, though. A timid dog might be a bit anti-social, but it’s just part of the dog’s personality. A scared dog learns at some point that people are harmful, and the dog retreats from people with every chance. If your dog is naturally shy, it’s just part of their personality. This can happen with an older dog who is very attached to their family. They’ll brush off or ignore affection towards them from most people, since all their positive associations are related to their family members. In addition, a dog might be a bit apprehensive and unprepared take down their defenses, particularly if the dog hasn’t been long since they were brought home from a rescue shelter, etc. This requires you to reward good behavior, and offer your dog a reliable schedule with positive reinforcements to bring them our of their shell. Show them that you are a good human!
Abusive Owner History
Dog ownership can be tricky when you are adopting a rescue dog. Your dog’s history from their previous owners plays a vital part in the development of a dog’s fear response. No dogs ever want to be abused in any form, and some breeds offer no resistance to abuse, especially if that dog breed isn’t strong-willed, independent or aggressive. But realistically speaking, no dogs are ever safe from the cruelties of abusive owners, even if they’re the kind of breed that would fight back just to protect themselves.
Physical and Mental Condition
As related above, all forms of abuse from their previous owners often result in their unstable physical and mental condition. When a dog experiences the horrors of being mistreated by an abusive owner, they tend to become fearful an distrustful toward humans. If they get rescued and are brought to a shelter, it’ll take some time for them to accept and trust humans again.
How to Prevent Dogs From Getting Scared of Me
As any dog owner should already know, don’t hit your dog, EVER. It’s a surefire way to make your dog afraid of you.
Even if it’s merely out of frustration or just because you’re impatient with their behavior. Dogs that have spent their lives getting hit are almost certainly living in constant fear and anxiety. Instead of hitting them when they’re being assertive, try to respond with positive reinforcement and understand the reason behind their actions or behavior. Give you dog love and attention, especially during the times they need it the most.
You should also avoid verbal abuse when they didn’t obey a certain command or they don’t behaved as they’re told. Instead of shouting or yelling every time you try to get you dog to behave, try to understand where they’re coming from and just be patient as they take one step at a time. Odds are, your dog just doesn’t understand what you want them to do. So you need to become a good trainer!
Furthermore, if a dog is already scared of you, don’t try to approach them once they retreat to their safe space (under a table for example). A dog will only become more agitated if you try to impose yourself on them while they are in their own space. You just need to give them time. Let them be until the dog starts to feel comfortable (and you are less frustrated). Once they finally interact with you again, be slow, gentle, and try to bond with the dog.
Lastly, it is also worth mentioning that dogs tend to get scared easily by the noises of fireworks, especially when people are celebrating Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. Thunder can scare some dogs as well. These responses are quite natural, and the best you can do is find your dog’s hiding spot, soothe them, and make them comfortable.