For dogs living in fear, there are often many signs that we as pet parents can detect. Some are more obvious than others, however learning about the various common and less common signals can help put your dog at ease. Take a read below to find out more.
You might begin to suspect your dog is living in fear if they regularly present signs of jitteriness, flinch around people, or frequently run away without reason. Usually it is because something has scared them.
Recognising these signs will allow you to reassure your dog in these situations. You will also be able to reassure and train them more easily once you are able to tell the difference between a dog who is scared and one who is simply stubborn.
However, there are other signs that your dog might be scared that you may not have recognised before. Let's take a look!
1. They refuse to eat
Many pet parents think that their dog is being stubborn when they refuse to eat during training, or that they aren't hungry when they refuse to eat in a new environment. Not eating in a new place or in a 'bustling' environment (with cars, people, other dogs, etc) can be a sign that your dog is too anxious to eat normally.
While this might be a less common occurrence, depending where you are, it's important to provide them with plenty of love and comfort to help reassure them that they are safe.
2. They suddenly start acting weird
On a walk, your dog may suddenly stop listening to you and start sniffing, scratching and/or whimpering. This strange behaviour could be linked to the fact that your dog is nervous or stressed. This behaviour is a way for them to process this emotion.
If you notice that your dog is acting in this way, keep an eye on what is going on around you to see what could be putting your dog in such a state and either try to comfort them or move on quickly from where you are. Show them that you are taking action!
3. They don't listen to you anymore
Once again, many pet parents think that their dog is just stubborn or is choosing to ignore them. It's important to know that a frightened dog cannot physically respond to an order because their brain is in 'instinct' mode.
If your dog is acting like you don't exist, it is most likely because they are scared. It's important to assess the environment here to find out what it is that they are being frightened by.
4. They lick their chops
Does your dog often sit down and lick their chops? It's not necessarily because they saw a delicious treat. It is a self-calming action that your dog may do when a certain situation makes them nervous. This can be the presence of other dogs, unknown people in your home, or a change of environment for them.
5. They pant excessively
If your dog pants excessively, this is a sign that something is amiss. Dogs usually pant when they are hot. But if they are panting in a room with air-conditioning or the temperature is not high, this is a sign that they are stressed or scared of something.
Pay attention to these subtle signs so that you can help to calm them, thus strengthening your relationship with them further.
6. Your dog is permanently on high alert
This behaviour can often be mistaken for showing a lack of attention to you, which isn't entirely wrong. The problem is, your dog may be feeling scared and therefore distracted meaning you're likely to struggle getting their attention. In persisting getting them to listen to you, you run the risk of making the situation worse as their fears are not abated.
If you take your dog for walks where appear jittery or they turn their head continuously in order to check their environment, you may need to find another place where to walk them.
With any demand of our dogs, it's important not to insist. Read their body language, and if you are unsure about whether or not they are living in fear, have them checked out by your vet who can help provide some solutions.
Has your dog ever presented the above signs?