What to do when your Dog feels Scared?

1,161 Views Updated: 30 Apr 2018
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What to do when your Dog feels Scared?

Whether it is because of a neighborhood bully dog, thunderstorm or a stranger, all dogs get scared from time to time. While some of our furry friends face fear with courage, others are not that skilled at coping with it. If you are a dog owner whose dog often gets frightened, then good news for you is that there is a way you can help your dog. In fact, there are more than just one thing you can do to help your pet.

7 Ways you can help your dog when it is scared

#1. Start Behavior Modification

Most puppies develop phobias, fears, and anxieties at the onset of social maturity, between the age of 12 and 36 months. Puppies that are deprived of environmental and social exposure tend to become generally fearful. This dog behavior can be avoided by simply exposing your pet to several social situations when it is young.

However, if your dog has already passed this critical period, then you need to look for other tricks to teach your dog to be composed in scary situations. Two of the most effective options for you are counter-conditioning and desensitization. For those, who do not know what Desensitization is, it is controlled and repeated exposure to a stimulus which scares your dog. The objective here is to minimize the undesirable reaction to a certain stimulus. Counter-conditioning is getting your dog to exude a positive behavior in place of the negative one when it feels scared.


(Image Courtesy: Nuzzle)

#2. Stay Calm

The easiest way to scare your dog is being scared yourself. In the same way, the simplest way to calm your dog is to stay calm in a frightening situation. Fear is contagious and is so compelling that it spreads around in no time. Therefore, if you are scared of the thunderstorms, it is likely that your dog will pick up on your habit and develop the fear of thunderstorms by itself.

When you are in stuck in frightening situations, calm yourself by concentrating on your body, slowing your breathing down, taking on a confident posture and speaking softly. It is okay if you are scared; the objective here is not to let your dog sense that you are afraid. If your dog gets a hint that you are losing control, it will get scared, making things even worse for you.


(Image Courtesy: Pinterest)

#3. Create A Calming Area

Not sure you have noticed this or not, but all dogs have a calming area, the cocoon they turn to when they are scared. It could be under the bed, in the closet or someplace else. So, pay attention to what your dog does when it is scared and then make the area easily accessible the next time it is scared. Furthermore, you can also try to make this space as comfortable as possible to your furry companion by providing your dog’s favorite blanket, a few toys, and water to drink. If you find your dog to be too scared, then perhaps you can accompany your dog in its safe place and assure it of safety.


(Image Courtesy: Miss Molly Says)

#4. Go For An Anxiety Wrap

As absurd as it sounds, a simple scarf can be the key to break down your dog’s fear. Just like swaddling helps calm the nerves of a baby, the same way it helps your dog with anxiety. Putting pressure on your pet’s lateral body, it helps in making it feel safe, secure and protected. The wraps not only help in treating fear but has also been proven to help with other conditions like anxiety, hyperactivity, insecurity as well as shyness.

Cheap in price, these wraps are easily available on pet stores. In addition to that, there are also several varieties of the product that you can choose from. Pick the wrap that your dog is comfortable with and solve your purpose. In case you cat is having anxiety issues, a plethora of wraps are also available for the same as well.


(Image Courtesy: Mother Nature Network)

#5. Distract Your Dog

Our fears are in our mind. Therefore, the best way to calm down is to distract the mind from the thing that makes you scared. If your dog or cat is scared of a thunderstorm or loud noises, try to involve it in an engaging activity such as playing with a ball or watching the TV. Playing the radio at high volume can also help in distracting your pet’s mind away from the thunder. An important thing to note here is that while many dogs are easily distracted, some show no interest in playing when they are scared. So, do not force your pet to play with you, but instead look for some other way to help it.


(Image Courtesy: Just 4 Pet Care)

#6. Talk To An Animal Behavior Expert

Your dog cannot tell you how exactly it feels and neither can you read its mind. The thing that comes closest to understanding how exactly a dog feels is consulting an animal expert. They can read your pet’s body language in different situations and tell you exactly how they feel in different scenarios. In addition to that, they can also offer insightful tips to your family regarding how you can train your dog to act composed in peculiar situations.


(Image Courtesy: YouTube)

#7. Try Dog Anxiety Medication

If you have tried everything mentioned above and yet you are not able to control your dog’s anxiety attack, then we suggest you take the help of medication. Do not just buy any medication from the drug store, but get in touch with a veterinarian. The doctor would first want to rule out other things that might be caring your pet like a neurological disorder or thyroid disease. Other common reason behind the absurd behavior of your pet could be exposure to some toxic substance such as lead. Only after analyzing your dog’s various symptoms and carrying out a few tests, the veterinarian would prescribe your dog anxiety medication.


(Image Courtesy: Fun Paw Care)

Have you just lost your pet? Cannot cope up with the feeling of loneliness? Perhaps this can help.

While these are the things you can do to help your dog’s anxiety attack, but there is another important thing you need to consider. Before you can help your dog with anxiety, you need to know when you need to act. Here are some dog ANXIETY SIGNS that will assist you to figure the same out.

7 Dog Anxiety Signs

#1. They Stop Eating

You may think that your dog is only refusing to eat because it’s stubborn, but it is one of the most common and easily recognizable signs that your dog is scared. If your dog neglects its meal in a new place or environment, then it could be anxious or scared.


(Image Courtesy: AmiciPetCo)

#2. They Exude Displacement Behavior

If your dog starts to sniff, scratch, yawn or stops listening to you in a certain situation, then it is probably stressed or scared. These are actually displacement behaviors that pets use to deal with pressure situations. When you feel your pet doing the same, examine the environment to find out the stimuli that may be causing this distress.


(Image Courtesy: Pets4Homes)

#3. They Become Unresponsive

When pets are unresponsive, people usually take it as a sign that they are just being stubborn or aren’t in the mood to play, but it is, in fact, the fear that is distracting them. When scared, they automatically switch to the ‘instinct’ mode and the part of the brain which is responsible for understanding the cues.


(Image Courtesy: Rebm)

#4. They Lip Their Lips

Dogs do not always lick their lips because they enjoyed their meal, it could indicate something else as well. It may be an appeasement behavior of your dog in nervousness. It could be a sign that your pet is not liking the presence of another dog or it is irritated by the kids.


(Image Courtesy: Rover)

#5. They Pace

A telltale sign that your pet is scared is that it starts to pace around the house. Just like pacing or walking help us when we are scared, it helps pets as well. Pay attention if your dog paces nervously and won’t listen to you. Never ignore your dog when it's pacing around the house. Instead, look for the thing that is giving rise to this situation and eradicate it.


(Image Courtesy: Rover)

#6. They Pant Excessively

Excessive panting can also be a sign of fear and anxiety in dogs. Other physical signs that you should keep an eye out for is pressed ears and tail tucked between its legs or very close to the body.


(Image Courtesy: Dog Pack)

#7. They Become Hyper-Vigilant

A calm dog tends to act relaxed whereas a scared one becomes hyper-vigilant. Most people take this behavior as their dog just being distracted but it is one of the most common signs of your pet being scared or frightened. If your dog keeps looking at the horizon or turns its head at the smallest of sounds, it is probably time for you to get into action.


(Image Courtesy: The Sun)

Now you know the dog anxiety signs as well as the ways you can help your dog with anxiety. Before you go off to read another article, spare a few seconds to tell us what you do to help your scared dog or puppy. We would love to hear from you.

(Featured Image Courtesy: Reader's Digest)

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Posted by: Stella Posts: (3) Opinions: (8) Points: 360 Rank: 485
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I have a golden retriever which can bark your ears out and wake up the entire neighborhood in the middle of the night, but he’s as cowardly in reality as fearless he looks at the first sight. He gets very scared of the neighborhood dogs even of the small ones like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians. I suppose I am partly to blame here since I did not let him out of the house much when he was just a pup. So he never got the chance to get acquainted with other animals and it is too difficult now to change what he has learned. As soon as he spots another dog on the street when I am walking him around, he goes into the panic mode, making it difficult for me to hold on to the leash.

How I deal with my dog’s anxiety attack around other dogs is I pet or hug him, assuring him that he is safe and there is nothing to worry about. This helps in calming him down sometimes but there have been instances when he became frantic and just pulled me around. I also often keep a ball with me so I can engage my dog in some activity and distract him when other dogs are around. Perhaps this would train him to act naturally in the presence of other dogs. But this only works a few times, when other pets a little bit far away. One thing that one of my dog owner friends who also had a scared dog suggested me was to act confident around my golden retriever in situations that make him nervous. Just like fear, confidence is also contagious. Maybe this would come in handy for you if you are going through the same thing.

At this point, maybe knowing the usual things that dogs are scared of will help you dealing with the fear better. One of the most common phobias is dogs is the fear of thunder, which is also termed as astraphobia. A large number of dogs are observed to be scared of thunder and lightning but its level varies from dog to dog. While some merely tremble a little and come to you for comfort, others start to panic or hide in their safe place. Another common dog phobia originates from fireworks. Loud and sudden sounds scare many dogs. Dog anxiety medication or management technique can help in dealing with these.

Believe it or not, but your dog may also be suffering from the fear of being alone, which experts refer to as separation anxiety. If your dog is showing symptoms like excessive barking when you leave or damaging incidents when you leave him home alone, then your pet probably is afraid of being left alone. Other dog phobias that you need to keep your eye out for is the fear of visiting the veterinarian, fear of going up or down on the stairs, fear of riding in the car, fear of other dogs and fear of strangers. Moreover, your dog could also be scared of children if he has had negative experiences with kids in the past.

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