8 Common Dog Phobias & Fears
A lot of people can find dogs intimidating, but did you know they’ve got their own set of fears and phobias to contend with? As well as dogs being scared of other dogs, there’s a lot of other things they’ve got to be scared of. These phobias can lead to aggressive behavior if owners don’t recognize why their dog is acting up. From dogs being scared of other dogs to simply being scared of thunder, we explore eight of the most common phobias and fears.
Fear of Thunder
One of the most common fears in dogs is the sound of thunder. Fear of thunder is very common but varies dramatically from dog to dog. Some are terrified of thunder, and some aren’t bothered in the slightest! If your dog is scared of thunder, you may notice trembles, flattened ears, wide eyes, or a tucked tail. Severe fears of thunder can lead to more serious reactions, such as violence, destructive behavior, or even soiling themselves.
Fear of Humans
Human beings can be scary too. This fear can often stem from a former lifetime of abuse, such as violence inflicted by a previous owner. In most cases, it’s simply due to not having regular interaction with humans. Dogs that aren’t used to spending time around humans can often come across as shy and get easily intimidated by the tone of our voices or just the size of us. It can take time for dogs to get over this fear. The easiest way to address it is with carefully considered interaction.
Fear of Being Alone
The fear of being alone isn’t just something that humans are scared of. If you’ve ever left the house to hear your dog whimpering or barking loudly as soon as you close the door behind you, this is known as separation anxiety in dogs. Some will even resort to destructive behavior once their human companions have left the house. Thankfully, separation anxiety can be addressed by using desensitization, which involves using methods such as leaving the house more regularly or slowly and quietly to get your dog used to being home alone.
Fear of Vets
Nobody really likes going to the doctors and no dog likes going to the vets. In fact, some hate it. A dog’s first exposure to a vet usually involves them being handled in ways that they’re not used to, like being restrained, or even getting needles shoved in them as part of vaccinations. One of the easiest ways to get your dog more comfortable in a veterinary practice is by providing them with treats every time they visit. They’ll eventually start associating yummy treats with these trips. Making sure you’ve got dog health insurance is a great way of keeping the costs down and avoiding big bills.
Fear of Riding in the Car
For some dogs, nothing beats hitching a ride with their human companions, sticking their head out of the window and watching the world pass them by. Not all dogs are the same, though. For some, the idea of riding in a car is their worst nightmare. This fear of riding in the car can stem from previous negative experiences, such as riding on the way to a shelter or even from a visit to the vet. Similar to vet journeys, the fear of riding in a car can be solved with treats and by allowing your dog to enjoy short and smooth journeys to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Fear of Stairs
It sounds like a strange phobia, but dogs being afraid of stairs isn’t that unusual. The fear of going up and down stairs is a common fear in dogs, a phobia which usually develops as a result of not encountering stairs in their puppy years. Some dogs may be reluctant to use stairs but this fear can be easily overcome if you positively reinforce them to take it one step at a time. Once dogs reach an older age, they may find it more difficult to navigate stairs as a result of health conditions such as arthritis. It’s important to check for and consider such medical conditions before encouraging your dogs to take part in what could be a strenuous and stressful task.
Fear of Fireworks
The loud and unpredictable sound of fireworks can be terrifying to most dogs. In fact, fireworks are one of the most common dog fears, with severe phobias needing to be treated with anti-anxiety medication. Some dogs will often respond to fireworks by trembling or cowering. It’s important to make sure you’re in the home to reassure and comfort your dog during events where fireworks are commonly set off.
Fear of Specific Objects
Ever seen those videos of cats getting scared by cucumbers? Dogs aren’t much different and can respond fearfully to the strangest things, from holiday decorations and kids’ toys to objects such as vacuum cleaners. Most common fears of specific objects aren’t serious but if there’s something in your household that’s causing your dog to act scared or aggressively, it’s always best to remove it to avoid your dog suffering from any further stress.