As with all creatures, dogs can develop various types of phobias and fears with many different causes, such as no early socialization, negative experiences, or genetics. A dog’s phobias and fears could cause to them to cower, tremble, drool, bark, act on destructive behavior, or even become aggressive. To be sure you know what to look for when one of your dogs starts acting strangely and scared, here is a quick overview of common phobias and fears that dogs can develop.
Astraphobia, or fear of thunder, is very common among dogs, but the level of fear they exhibit can vary. While some dogs only tremble, flatten their ears, or tuck their tails during thunderstorms, others may have more severe fears that lead to hiding, destructive behavior, or losing control of their bladder or bowels. It’s possible for dogs to sense storms coming before we even detect them, which is why many owners notice their dogs displaying symptoms of fear within minutes of when storms actually hit.
As with astraphobia, fireworks’ unpredictable, loud light and sound displays make most dogs tremble with fear. Some dogs can slowly get used to fireworks and lose their phobia whereas others call for management practices. Dogs that have critical fireworks phobias may require sedatives or even anti-anxiety medications.
Being Left Alone
This fear is also called separation anxiety, with dogs that experience it often exhibiting destructive behavior once their owners have left the home. Other symptoms involve housebreaking accidents or excessive barking. Changes in an owner’s behavior could help ease their dog’s fears—making small habit changes before leaving as well as being low key whenever they leave and come home can help alleviate a dog’s separation anxiety. Desensitization—slowly acclimating the dog to being home alone—could also benefit dogs that are experiencing separation anxiety.
It’s common for a dog to fear their vet visits, given their first vet encounter often involves unusual smells, being restrained, getting handled in new ways, and receiving vaccinations. If other phobias aren’t involved, then this fear is often fixed easily by simply bringing the dog to their vet’s office for several social visits without any examinations being done.
In the case of this fear, dogs can fear anyone they don’t know, which can be difficult to overcome, as it’s not possible to teach dogs to accept all new people. If your dog exhibits the telltale signs of fear but toward strangers, it’s crucial that you allow the dog time to approach them on their own and at their own speed. Forcing fearful dogs to accept strangers could cause them to get aggressive, which can easily lead to instances where you’ll need a good amount of Manuka honey on hand to deal with the dog bites that could possibly happen.
Dogs can grow to fear children for a variety of reasons, with the big one being a lack of exposure to kids at an early age. It’s common for individuals to get pets before they have children, and if you’re not bringing a puppy into a home with children in it, the dog may not have the chance to socialize with them. Also, dogs often have poor experiences with young children. They may have the right intentions, but dogs may interpret offers of affection as threats. With that in mind, dog owners who must deal with dogs that fear children should consider consulting a dog behaviorist or trainer to work on their phobia.