No one wants to see their pet in pain or suffering any kind of discomfort, so dog owners need to know the signs of fear in dogs. When a dog gets spooked, he sometimes shows several visible signs that signal his fear. Some dogs have more noticeable reactions than others when they are afraid, but even if your pup tries to hide it, you can often detect fear in dogs by their behavior, body language, and even smell.
Since dogs have evolved into highly sophisticated communication experts, you can often tell just how frightened they are by their behavior.
There are several ways to identify whether your dog is fearful and would prefer not to be outside with you. Here are five signs to look for when you take your dog for a walk:
1. He keeps his ears closed. This is a sign that your dog is afraid of something.
2. He doesn’t like to be touched or petted. Your dog may not like to be touched or petted in this situation.
3. He walks behind you instead of beside you. If he keeps to your side, he might be more comfortable. If he walks behind you, it may be that he feels a threat or he feels the need to observe what is going on.
4. He pulls on the leash. If your dog does this, it may be that he is afraid of the person walking the leash.
5. He barks or growls at you or other people on the street. If your dog does this, it may be that he is afraid of something happening on the street.
How to Calm Your Dog
When your dog shows signs of fear, make sure you know how to relieve his anxiety. If left untreated for too long, fear can develop into more serious problems like aggression or depression. Owners of puppies and new dogs need to know the signs of fear because it is much easier to treat a puppy with a little bit of fear than a dog who has been suffering in silence for a long time.
When your dog gets spooked by something in his environment, it’s important to have a plan of action. Here are some tips on how to recognize the symptoms of fear in dogs so you can help calm them down.
1. Avoid eye contact. Your dog may perceive your stares as a challenge or feel that he is being threatened by you, which can increase his fearfulness even more. Instead of looking at your dog, look off to the side until he feels calmer and then slowly lower your gaze toward the floor.
2. Cover his eyes with your hand. If you can get in front of him, this will work to get his attention away from whatever is spooking him and get his mind on something else like a game or treat. Keep your hand relaxed — don’t make it into an ear, but rather try to cover the eye area and not the muzzle.
3. Talk to your dog in a low, soothing voice. It is important not to over-amplify your voice when trying to calm your dog down because this will only trigger another fear response in him.
4. Apply pheromone sprays to his bedding. Pheromones are small scents that help your dog relax and feel safe. They can be applied to your pet’s crate, his favorite sleeping spot or even the floor of the room where he spends most of his time.
5. Feed your dog a little bit of something delicious right before you leave the house together. The treat should be something your dog really loves, like small pieces of cheese or meat. Once he gets excited about the food, take it right back away and end the training session. By using this technique often before you leave, your dog will start to associate your departure with good things happening instead of bad ones.
6. Leave the porch lights on or a nightlight on in the room where your dog sleeps at night. Many dogs are frightened of being outside when it is dark, so make sure he can see his way around. Leave the TV or radio on to create some background noise and distract your dog from whatever has scared him.
7. If all else fails, bring your dog inside and put him in a comfortable room with no loud noises or anything that he might be afraid of. Give him his favorite toys and treats and spend some time here together until you feel like he is okay to go back outside again.