Why has my dog suddenly become skittish? The Ultimate Guide

Most Common Signs of Fear in Dogs

These are the most common signs of fearful behavior of scared dogs. It’s far from an exhaustive list. Still, it’ll give you a general idea of what to watch out for.

  • Trembling
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Licking his lips
  • Cowering
  • Tail tucking
  • Hiding
  • Lunging, snapping, or other signs of aggression
  • Panting
  • Circling (or tail-chasing)
  • When dogs are experiencing extreme fear, they may even have diarrhea or vomiting. However, if your dog suddenly shows these symptoms, contact your vet because it could be related to a myriad of other underlying medical conditions.

    Just as all people experience panic attacks in different ways, so do dogs. One dog may tremble and cower, another may lunge and bark, and yet another may just turn tail & hide.

    Now that we know the signs of fear in dogs, let’s find out what could be causing Fido’s sudden paranoid behavior.

    #4 Past Abuse or Traumatic Experience

    When you adopt a rescue dog from a shelter you often don’t learn their whole history and what they’ve been through.

    Your dog might have been abused by his previous owner, and as such, Rover might get scared when something reminds him of his ugly past.

    For example, your pooch might get scared when you sound angry or when there’s tension in the house.

    Accidentally stepping on your dog’s tail or paws also might make your dog terrified all of a sudden.

    Particular smells, tone of voice, or hand gestures also could trigger an episode of sudden fear.

    Your dog might even get shy around strangers if they remind Rover of somebody who abused him.

    Even a dog who had a wonderful past may act scared when you first bring him home. A new environment can be very overwhelming for any creature. Heck, even I get a bit scared when I have to go someplace strange!

    In these situations, you’ll have to earn your dog’s trust and work on desensitizing him to the triggers.

    Again, Zak George is a great resource for training a scared dog. Take a peek at his tips below.

    My Dog is Acting Like He is Seeing Things

    If your dog is acting like he is seeing things, he may actually hear them before actually seeing them.

    However, dogs who persistently act like they see things might suffer from fly-snapping syndrome, eye issues (i.e. floaters), or neurological problems, perhaps even causing hallucinations.

    A dog’s hearing capabilities are four times stronger than a human’s.

    They can hear something distant and try to focus on it by looking in that direction.

    The frequencies your dog is picking up cannot be heard by people so he might look strange as if he sees things.

    A syndrome called Fly-Snapping can be the reason why your dog seems like seeing things as well.

    The FS Syndrome is caused by epilepsy and seizure.

    There is a possibility that the syndrome is hereditary.

    Eye problems like vitreous floaters are conditions when collagen fibers clump within the vitreous and cast shadows on the retina.

    In this case, your dog does see these clumps that appear as flies in front of his eyes which makes him fix his gaze strangely.

    Hallucinations can appear because of neurologic disorders or certain medications and make a dog keep looking up and around.

    This Dog is Afraid of Everything! – Solid K9 Training (2021)