Why is my dog scared of everything: What are dogs scared of?

Dogs are incredibly brave and loyal companions, and always want to protect us, but sometimes they just can't bring themselves to face their fears. What frightens dogs and why does it sometimes seem like they're scared of everything?

Dog owners should know the fears of their four-legged friends.
Dog owners should know the fears of their four-legged friends.  © Unsplash/Michelle Tresemer

It's vitally important for a dog owner to understand and develop an appreciation for their pup's fears and anxieties.

Not every dog can be as brave as the heroes of DC League of Super-Pets, and not every dog will succeed in being the loyal protector that they so want to be. In fact, a dog that is scared of everything is more common than you'd think.

Have you noticed your pup getting easily scared?

Woman selling puppies from sack charged with animal torture in New York City
Dogs Woman selling puppies from sack charged with animal torture in New York City

TAG24's dog guide is here to help you deal with your canine companion's fears.

What are dogs scared of, and what can you do about it?

Why is my dog scared of everything?

Your dog is likely to be a devoted and faithful companion who only wants the best for you, to see you happy and smiling, and to give you all the benefits of a good dog-human relationship. Still, despite all your dog's desires to please you and keep you safe, it's not without its own set of flaws and troubles.

In fact, dogs are actually quite timid and easily-scared. They experience intense waves of emotion and surprising levels of empathy. The simple fact of the matter is that it is not entirely unusual for a dog to be scared of just about everything.

Of course, the most classic examples of dogs being frightened are from the experiences they have with dog anxiety or even separation anxiety. Others, though, can include the fear of loud noises, a dislike of being in enclosed spaces like cars and boxes, or even an utterly illogical fear of other doggos.

In the end, your dog experiences far more stimuli than you do, but does not have the cognitive ability to understand what it is experiencing. Their noses are remarkably powerful and pick up all sorts of scents, their ears can hear things from a mile away, and even their fur is more sensitive than our hair.

Yet, they don't understand what these sensory stimuli are telling them - and what do animals do when they don't understand? They get scared or aggressive. This is the basic reason why a dog might seem like it's scared of everything.

What are dogs scared of?

Dogs are scared of many things, from loud noises to moving cars, and many of those things may make little-to-no-sense to us humans. If your dog has taken to hiding away when certain things happen, when certain items are present, or when a certain noise can be heard, that fear might not be logical, but it is real and needs to be respected and understood.

Here are a few things many commonly feared by dogs:

  • Extremely loud noises (bangs, fireworks, music, thunderstorms)
  • Being left alone, without their humans or another familiar animal (separation anxiety)
  • Certain smells that may seem unpleasant
  • Unknown or aggressive dogs
  • Other animals that are intruding on their space or acting aggressively
  • Due to the experiences they often have there, dogs sometimes get scared of going to the vet
  • Tight and uncomfortable spaces
  • Being tied up and unable to move
  • Reflections
  • Stressful situations with a lot going on

Respect your dog's fears and your dog will not only respect you more and love you for it, but will also likely become less anxious and scared as time moves on.

Please keep in mind: This is by no means a complete list. As we mentioned, dogs can get scared of just about anything. In many cases the veterinarian can help you pinpoint the problem.

Loud and unpredictable noises will often frighten dogs.
Loud and unpredictable noises will often frighten dogs.  © Unsplash/Matthew Henry

Dogs scared of loud noises

Whether it's fireworks or thunderstorms, dogs are particularly sensitive to loud noises. They don't understand what a firework is, or what the loud sound is that seems to be coming from the television. Your dog also won't know that a thunderstorm poses no threat to it when it is bundled up nice and warm inside.

In such situations, many dogs enter panic-like states. If this happens, often also sparked by things like sudden flashes and a variety of other stimuli, it's helpful to take your dog into as quiet and dark a spot as you can find. Help them find a cozy den, settle down, and return to their normal cheery self.

Dogs scared of other dogs

While some dogs will love to hang out with their canine friends, others will find other dogs exceedingly scary. This is likely due to poor socialization, something that training can help resolve, as well as a variety of other techniques more appropriately described to you by a licensed veterinarian.

If a dog was separated from its mother too early, for example, then it would not have learned how to behave around other dogs. In such a situation, talk to your vet and get advice on how to deal with it as it can get much worse over time. The last thing you want is for your dog's behavior to degenerate into fearfulness and an overly protective attitude towards you and its humans.

Dogs scared of the veterinarian

We all hate going to the doctor, but for a dog who doesn't understand what's going on, these experiences can be traumatic. As such, it is very common for dogs to be extremely fearful of the vet and all things associated with it. That means not only the clinic and vet, but the journey as well – so the box, the leash, the car, the drive, etc.

Certain smells and sounds, certain feelings and sensations will all become negatively associated with the veterinarian. As such, it's best to try and keep normal life and vet life separate. Use a different leash for walking, use a different box for holidays, and be as empathetic as you can when you have to make that dreaded trip to the veterinarian. Remember, though, this is for your dog's own good, even if it gets very unhappy when you take it.

Dogs scared of car rides

Driving in a car is fun for some dogs, and pure stress for others.
Driving in a car is fun for some dogs, and pure stress for others.  © Unsplash/Tadeusz Lakota

Any kind of enclosed space can be very scary to dogs, so many will find the car absolutely unbearable. Think about it this way, it is a metal box with all sorts of strange smells, sounds, and sights, is whizzing down the road at enormous speed, and often ends in a trip to the veterinarian. There's really nothing to like in a car trip, is there?

While some doggos will love going in the car, others will be extremely scared and anxious. Those dogs in particular need to be well secured and carefully looked after throughout a journey. If you are driving long distances, stop and take a breather here and there, letting your dog go for a walk, and giving it some time to eat and go to the toilet. Check out our guide on taking dogs in the car for more information.

The unknown is scary for dogs

No matter what it is that your dog has become clearly scared of, it is likely due to a lack of understanding and a sense that what they are seeing, hearing, or experiencing is "unknown." Doggos are not smartest cookies on the block and will often get very frightened when they don't understand what is going on, defaulting to the head of their pack for protection – that's you!

As a result, it's important to respect their fears and not get angry with them when they respond strongly to stimuli. While it's worth going to the vet to see if there is anything that can be done to reduce their fear, it's a good idea to always be kind, caring, and loving in such situations.

Cover photo: Unsplash/Michelle Tresemer

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