What is dog fear called?

Dogs can experience many types of fears and phobias. Understanding the different types of fear in dogs is important for pet owners, as it allows them to better support their pet’s emotional health. Some of the most common types of fear in dogs include:

General Anxiety

General anxiety refers to a dog who is anxious or fearful across a variety of situations. Anxious behaviors may include trembling, hiding, running away, or becoming destructive when left alone. This type of anxiety may be caused by lack of proper socialization as a puppy, or negative past experiences. With patience and counterconditioning, general anxiety can often be reduced.

Noise phobias

Noise phobias involve fear of loud or sudden noises, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, gunshots, or even vacuum cleaners. These phobias may cause dogs to tremble, pace, hide, or try to escape the noise. Medications, desensitization training, and providing a safe space during noises can help dogs overcome noise phobias.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when a dog panics in response to being left alone or separated from their owner. Separation anxiety may stem from a lack of confidence or negative experiences when alone. It can result in destructive behaviors like chewing, housetraining accidents, barking or howling. Treatment involves counterconditioning, crate training, and medications in some cases.

Fear of People

Fear of strangers or fear of men can occur in some dogs, especially those who were undersocialized to people as puppies. These dogs may cower, growl, or snap when approached by new people. Professional training and controlled exposure can help dogs overcome fear of people.

Fear of Other Dogs

Fear of other dogs or reactivity to other dogs is another common issue. A bad experience with another dog or lack of socialization can create this fear. Dogs may lunge, bark, or attempt to attack when seeing other dogs. Training, desensitization, and medications can reduce this fear and teach dogs to stay calm around others.

Fear of Children

Fast movements and loud voices can make some dogs wary of children. Dogs may hide or react fearfully when approached by kids. Having kids give treats, proper introductions, and teaching children how to appropriately interact with dogs can help them become more comfortable.

Phobias of Places or Objects

Dogs can develop specific phobias of places (like the vet’s office) or objects (like a vacuum cleaner). They may refuse to go near the place or object they fear, hide, or panic when exposed to it. Desensitization therapy can help dogs overcome phobias through slow, controlled contact.

Fear of Noises

Loud noises like thunder, fireworks, or gunshots can create a fear response in many dogs. They may tremble, hide, bark, pace, or try to escape from the noise. Providing a safe space, behavior therapy, and anti-anxiety medications can help dogs with noise phobias.

Fear of Being Alone

Dogs are pack animals, so being left alone can create anxiety in some. They may whine, bark, chew destructively, or have housetraining accidents when alone. Building confidence through training, proper confinement methods, and anti-anxiety medications can treat this fear.

Fear of Vehicles

Some dogs become extremely fearful around vehicles, especially in cars. They may pant, pace, bark, vomit, or eliminate due to fear. Short drives, favorite treats, and medications can help desensitize dogs and make travel less frightening.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Dogs with generalized anxiety tend to be consistently anxious, no matter what situation they are placed in. They may pace, tremble, hide, or be destructive when faced with any experiences. Anti-anxiety medication along with behavior modification therapy helps manage this anxiety.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

Repetitive, obsessive behaviors like licking, pacing, spinning, or tail chasing may indicate an anxiety disorder in dogs. Medication and training to replace the behaviors with more positive activities can provide relief.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Dogs who have experienced something extremely frightening or traumatic may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms are similar to general anxiety but may be focused around reminders of the trauma. Desensitization to triggers in a safe environment can help dogs recover.

Specific Phobias

Dogs may develop an intense, irrational fear response to specific things like thunderstorms, car travel, or visits to the veterinarian. These phobias cause extreme distress for dogs when they encounter the object of fear. Customized desensitization training helps overcome the phobic response.

Separation Anxiety

This occurs when dogs become extremely anxious and distressed when left alone or separated from their owner. Destructive behavior, housetraining accidents, and vocalizing are common symptoms. Treatment involves building confidence, changes to leaving/return routines, and anti-anxiety medication.

Social Anxiety

Fear around unfamiliar people or other dogs is known as social anxiety or social phobia. It may cause fearful body language, hiding, or aggression around others. Careful socialization experiences can increase confidence and reduce social anxiety.

Noise Anxiety

Sensitivity to loud, sudden noises like thunder, fireworks orConstruction noises can cause anxiety including trembling, hiding, vocalizing, and trying to escape. Creating a safe space, desensitization, and medication helps manage noise anxiety.

What causes fear and anxiety in dogs?

There are a few potential causes of fear and anxiety problems in dogs:

  • Lack of socialization as a puppy
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Genetics and personality
  • Insufficient exercise/mental stimulation
  • Changes in environment/routine
  • Medical issues like thyroid problems

Often, anxiety disorders arise from a combination of factors like genetics, environment, past experiences, and personality.

What are symptoms of fear and anxiety in dogs?

Some common symptoms of fear and anxiety in dogs include:

  • Hiding or retreating
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Barking or whining
  • Destructiveness like chewing or digging
  • House soiling
  • Pacing
  • Aggression like lunging or snapping
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Trying to escape
  • Clinging to owner

Dogs may display one or multiple symptoms depending on the source of their anxiety and their individual personality.

What are treatments for fear and anxiety in dogs?

Some common treatments for anxiety disorders in dogs include:

  • Behavior modification therapy and desensitization training
  • Pheromone supplements like Adaptil
  • Anxiolytic medications prescribed by a veterinarian
  • Creating a safe space or den area
  • Consistency and routine
  • Increased exercise and mental stimulation
  • Natural supplements like melatonin or CBD (consult your vet first)

The most effective treatment plans often involve a combination of training, management, and medication when needed.


Fear and anxiety can manifest in dogs in many ways and have a variety of potential causes. Recognizing symptoms of anxiety allows owners to seek help for their dogs’ emotional health. Treatments ranging from training and medication to creating routine and environmental changes can help dogs overcome their fears and anxieties.

With knowledge of the types of dog fears, their causes, and available treatments, dog owners can better address anxiety issues. This allows for happier, healthier dogs who feel safe and confident in their environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog suddenly afraid of everything?

Some potential reasons your dog may suddenly become fearful include: traumatic incident, pain/health condition, loss of hearing/vision making them feel vulnerable, dementia, and changes in home environment. Checking with your vet and gradually desensitizing them to triggers can help.

Why is my dog afraid of other dogs?

Fear of other dogs often stems from lack of socialization, bad past experiences, or genetic personality tendencies. Careful exposure and positive associations can help dogs become more confident around others. Consulting a trainer/behaviorist can be beneficial.

Why is my dog afraid of noises?

Loud, sudden noises can startle dogs easily. Things like fireworks, thunder, gunshots, and even vacuums can trigger fear. Noise anxiety may be genetic or caused by a bad past experience. Desensitization training helps dogs overcome sensitivity to noises.

Why is my dog suddenly afraid to go on walks?

If your dog suddenly becomes afraid to go on walks, it may be caused by a traumatic incident on a recent walk, like being attacked or frightened by something. Gradually re-socialize them to the triggers through positive reinforcement. See your vet to rule out health issues.

Why is my dog afraid of men?

Fear of men or strangers can stem from lack of socialization to diverse people in puppyhood. Trauma, like abuse from a man, can also trigger this. Have men offer tasty treats and interact positively with your dog so they learn men are not threatening.

What can I give my dog to calm his fears?

Talk to your vet before giving your dog any supplements or medications. Some natural options that may help calm your dog’s fears include chamomile, valerian root, passionflower, CBD oil, and melatonin. Prescription anti-anxiety medication may also be recommended in some cases.

How can I help my fearful dog gain confidence?

Helping a fearful dog gain confidence involves using desensitization and positive reinforcement during training, maintaining routines, avoiding punishment, and creating a safe space. Confidence building activities can also help, along with prescription anti-anxiety medication if recommended by your veterinarian.

What essential oils are good for dog anxiety?

Some essential oils reported to help with dog anxiety include lavender, chamomile, bergamot, sweet marjoram, and cedarwood. Always dilute oils before use and check that oils are safe for dogs. Introduce oils slowly as some dogs may be more sensitive to certain smells.

How can I get my dog used to being alone?

Start with very short alone time sessions of a few seconds to minutes and reward calm behavior. Use relaxing music, puzzles, and food-filled toys to associate being alone with good things. Slowly increase alone time duration. Providing exercise first can also help your dog feel more relaxed when alone.

What homeopathic remedies are good for dog anxiety?

Some homeopathic remedies reported to potentially help dog anxiety include arsenicum album, borax, aconitum, pulsatilla, kali phos, silicea, lycopodium, and phosphorous. Consult with a holistic vet before use, start remedies slowly at low doses and monitor your dog’s response.

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