Why is my friend’s dog afraid of me? Here’s What to Expect

Easing the Fear

A dogs fear of strangers should be managed very carefully. All dogs react differently when theyre afraid. One dog may simply cower in a corner in the presence of a stranger. Another dog may react by growling or snapping. Teaching a dog not to be afraid usually takes lots of time and consistent training.

You may expect your dog to react fearfully toward strangers. This can result in your tensing up or tightening your hold on its leash. Try to stay friendly, relaxed, and upbeat when you and your dog meet new people. Some dogs never learn to fully accept strangers, but you may be able to alleviate your dogs fear to some extent. Do not force your fearful dog to meet people or accept pets if it does not want them as this can sometimes lead to fear biting. Depending on your dogs reaction, working with a certified dog behaviorist to help identify cues and management strategies to practice is be very helpful. Every dog learns and adjusts at its own pace. This process can take weeks, months, or even longer.

Why is my dog shying away from me?

Coupled with the fact that dogs inherently dislike something reaching down from above toward them, most dogs quickly learn to associate a hand reaching toward their head with discomfort or stress. This leads many dogs to become head shy, and they learn to duck out of the way of a hand reaching toward them.

How to get your scared dog to trust you

If your scared dog is a young puppy, you still have time to prevent her fearful behavior as an adult by taking advantage of the socialization period every dog goes through.

“The best way to deal with irrational phobias, including fear of humans, is to ensure that your dog has positive, happy experiences with humans of all shapes and sizes during the critical socialization period of around 7 to 15 weeks of age,” Dr. Wooten said. “During this time period, puppies are forming their opinions about the world around them. This is also the age when fear develops. If your puppy has happy, positive experiences with people during this time period, it will likely lead to a harmonious relationship with humans. If your puppy has scary, negative experiences with humans during this time, it will likely cause irrational fears.”

While it’s easier to make sure a puppy has these positive experiences to shape their life, what if your scared dog is an adult? Luckily, there are still plenty of ways to help build her trust in you.

Here’s how to get started:


You try to be the good dog parent that you’ve always been, but for some weird reason your dog shuts down and is afraid.