Social Anxiety in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from social anxiety. And just like humans, dogs can’t talk about their feelings and let us know that they are feeling anxious. So how do we recognize when they’re having a tough time in social settings?

Socialising your puppy or dog is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy but it isn’t for every dog.

Some dogs are more sensitive than others, so socialising at an early age can help them to grow into confident adults. Socialisation can be done with other dogs, people and places as well as objects. However, if you have a particularly nervous pup then it may be best to start off with just one person at a time until he or she becomes more confident.

Socialisation should ideally begin around eight weeks of age but there’s no reason why older puppies can’t be introduced to new situations gradually too!

It’s not just humans that can be affected by social anxiety.

Social anxiety is a common condition in dogs, and can affect both human and dog relationships. The condition is similar to social anxiety in humans, but the symptoms are different.

For example, when a dog experiences human social anxiety (or Human-to-Dog Social Anxiety), he may run away from people or avoid them. If your dog has this type of social anxiety, it could be difficult for him to go on walks or visit the vet because he’s afraid of being around other dogs or people nearby.

A dog with Dog-to-Dog Social Anxiety (or Dog-to-Human Social Anxiety) will usually behave differently in certain situations than the average dog does—like avoiding eye contact with other dogs or ignoring them altogether when meeting new ones.

What are the signs of social anxiety in dogs?

  • Your dog may withdraw or avoid other dogs, people, and animals. If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s best to keep them at home until they’re comfortable around others again.
  • Your dog may be aggressive towards other dogs and/or people. If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s best to keep them at home until they’re comfortable around others again.
  • Your dog may be aggressive towards itself (i.e., biting its own tail). If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s best to bring them into a room with no windows or glass doors where they can’t jump out and hurt themselves by jumping off furniture like couches/beds/chairs etc., then call us so we can get an appointment set up for you as soon as possible!

Are certain breeds more prone to social anxiety?

Yes, certain breeds are more prone to social anxiety than others. Dogs that are bred to be more independent and less dependent on humans, like German Shepherds or Border Collies, tend to struggle with the stress of being around other dogs or people in a group setting. Dogs with a strong prey drive (like Border Collies) can have difficulty interacting with other dogs because they’re constantly trying to chase after them and will often play too roughly.

There are also some breeds that have specific traits that make them more prone to developing social anxiety than others:

  • Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are known for being sensitive (or “soft”) dogs—they get overwhelmed by stimulation quickly and may flee from it instead of acting out aggressively or defensively.
  • Dalmatians tend to be very energetic and excitable, which can cause some problems when they’re in new situations.
  • Chihuahuas are known for being nervous and skittish; their small size makes them easy targets for larger dogs who want something new and exciting.
  • Pit Bulls often become aggressive when faced with strangers, but this behavior isn’t necessarily due to an inherent lack of trust.
  • Finally, Brachycephalic Breeds (such as Bulldogs) often suffer from breathing problems caused by their shortened snouts

Is social anxiety in dogs the same as separation anxiety?

The answer is no. Social anxiety is different from separation anxiety. Social anxiety often manifests as a fear of being around other dogs or people, but it can also be a fear of certain situations such as the vet’s office. In contrast, separation anxiety is defined as a dog’s excessive and persistent reaction to being left alone by his owner that causes him to experience extreme stress which may include destructive behaviors like chewing furniture or barking incessantly at night when his owner leaves home for work.

How can we help our dog with social anxiety?

The best way to help your dog with social anxiety is to make sure that they are healthy, well-socialised and well-trained. You should also make sure that they are fed regularly and rested when they need it. Your dog will be less stressed if these things are taken care of, as anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as a racing heart rate or stomach cramps.

In addition to taking care of these basic needs, there are other things that you can do for your dog if you think it has social anxiety:

  • Keep them on a leash when out in public places until they learn how to behave appropriately in different situations
  • Make sure the harness fits properly so there is no pressure on their throat or chest areas that could cause discomfort during stressful situations

When to talk to a vet about your dog’s social anxiety.

If your dog has a history of anxiety or is displaying signs of social anxiety, it’s important to take him to the vet. Dogs may display a wide range of symptoms when they’re feeling stressed out, from huddling in corners and refusing to eat, to barking at passersby and otherwise acting out in ways that are dangerous for them and others.

One thing you’ll want to keep an eye out for is any changes in behavior after your pup has experienced something traumatic—a very stressful event such as being left alone or moving into a new home. If this happens and then your dog seems more anxious than usual, it’s time to talk with your vet about treatment options and possibly getting professional help from someone who specializes in animal behavior (such as a certified animal behaviorist).


Socialising your dog is an essential part of living with a dog. It is not only important for their happiness but also their overall health and wellbeing. If you are concerned about your dog’s social anxiety then you should speak to a vet or a qualified trained behaviourist. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action and talk you through practical steps that can help reduce any negative behaviours.