Why Do Dogs Show Fear



Is your dog human? As a pet parent, you might wonder if your dog is human when he or she shows fear. Fear in humans and canines is quite similar. This emotion is often experienced during a feeling of apprehension. Usually, this arises from an external threat such as an object, people or situation. A common situation that causes dogs fear is loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises. If you have left your dog home alone during a thunderstorm and came home to a mess, your dog surely experienced fear and left evidence to show. The following information will reveal the causes, signs, and solutions to this common problem in dogs.

The Root of the Behavior

Dogs show fear in various ways, such as urinating, diarrhea, excessive licking, attempting to escape the environment, destructive behavior, and excessive barking. Physical signs include tucking their tail under and trembling. This behavior is instinctual in canines and meant to serve as a protective tool when living in the wild. This natural behavior is beneficial to wild dogs but not usually necessary for domesticated dogs. Since this reaction is built into your dog’s DNA, it is essential that you learn the cause of the fear and how to help fix it. A common situation involves a terrible thunderstorm. Depending on where you live, some thunder can rumble so loudly it can be felt through the floor. This loud noise creates a scary environment for dogs, even if they are indoors. If you are home and your dog comes running to you during a loud thunderstorm for comfort, that’s great, but what happens when you aren’t home? 

Dogs are den animals that often seek shelter in den-like environments. This often taps into your dog’s natural instinct to dig into flooring with all of his or her might to create a hole or den-like environment. This is evident when you arrive home to find your carpet, wooden floor, or tile floor damaged or destroyed due to your dog’s attempt to dig a hole for safety. Dogs become fearful for various reasons. You might have some funny stories about your dog being scared of a squirrel or simply a piece of furniture. There are numerous triggers for different dogs. Determining the trigger for your dog might feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Observing your dog’s behavior and what causes his or her fear to suddenly appear usually involves a situation, object, person or environment. It shouldn’t take long to find the trigger that initiates fear in your adorable pooch. 

Encouraging the Behavior

The root of the fear can stem back to a traumatic event your dog experienced in his or her life. Did you adopt your dog from the shelter? Do you know details about his or her past? Sometimes dogs live a strenuous and anxiety filled life before they reach your cozy safe house. If your dog is afraid of trees, perhaps his or her past involved them being chained to one while starving? Always take the fear and cause serious, especially if you have adopted a dog with a past. It might be cute at first that your dog is afraid of trees, but if he or she shows signs of fear such as diarrhea, trembling, and barking, you need to limit your dog’s access to trees, or other trigger, depending on your specific situation. As a pet parent, you want to do everything you can to stop this behavior. If you just walked into your house and it’s destroyed due to your dog being afraid, you need to remain as calm as possible. Focus on the situation and what caused your dog to show fear. It's essential for you to dig deep to find out the trigger and help your dog overcome his or her fears. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Visiting a veterinarian for a check-up will help rule out an illness, pain, or ailment that is triggering the fearful behavior in your dog. Sometimes dogs who experience sharp pain often become afraid because they don’t know what’s going on and they don’t know how to fix it. As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to assure your dog isn’t experiencing pain or other health issues before seeking other possible triggers such as loud thunderstorms, or a big scary tree. Once you rule out any illness as the cause of the behavior, finding the logical trigger is usually quite easy. As soon as you notice your dog showing fear take note of the environment, objects, people, noises, and anything else that is causing the trigger. Eliminating the trigger is often the easiest solution. If your dog is afraid of the curtains in your living room, investing in window blinds will usually solve the issue. However, if the trigger stems back to a past situation your dog experienced, avoiding the area, object, or person is best. 


Fear leads to anxiety and your dog doesn’t deserve to live in constant fear. You can help your dog by finding his or her trigger. It might be something small and easy to solve and it might involve digging up that scary tree in the backyard. Humans and canines experience and show fear frequently, just think how great it would be if someone came along and removed all of your fears, solved your problems, and made life easier for you. That’s what you will be doing for your dog and he or she will love you for it.