For ages, dogs have been our best friends, serving us in a great array of roles—from protection to guarding and from herding to simply being our companions when we need them. Studies show that dogs greatly improve our quality of life and overall health; their presence reduces our stress, anxiety, and depression and eases our loneliness.

But when they themselves become scared, it is a reason to worry, especially when owners feel that they are the source of their fear. “Why is my dog scared of me?” you may think. The one who would always sit and cuddle with you but is now trying to avoid you and hide in his crate.

If you feel so, it must have deeply hit you to be someone that triggers anxiety and fear in your dog.

Why Is My Dog Scared of Me? 6 Possible Reasons

Milla Salonen and her colleagues found out that more than 70% of dogs belonging to different breeds show anxiety-like behaviors. There can be many reasons, but sometimes it can be YOU. It is totally acceptable and logical to think that way. Below, we list down a few reasons why your dog feels scared of you.

Genetic Causes

You might not believe it, but researchers have discovered that fear is a heritable trait. Fear and anxiety behavior in parents make their pups scared of people, including you. But genetics is not everything; there are environmental factors that contribute to developing fear in dogs.

You Have Adopted an Abandoned Dog

Adopting a dog that had abusive past experiences could make him scared of you. Roughly 5 to 17% of dogs have canine PTSD. “We don’t always know what may cause PTSD in dogs, but some potential causes are military or police work, being a bait or fighting dog, being raised in a puppy mill, severe abuse, living as a stray after being abandoned, trauma from a disaster (flood, fire, earthquake, tornado, explosion), or being attacked by other dogs or animals,” says Dr. Lori Teller, an associate professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said.

The abuse may have come, intentionally or unintentionally, from humans. That’s why your physical features as humans make your dog scared of you. But note that PTSD has many causes; only your features may not be the reason your dog feels scared of you. But if your dog loved you like crazy and now suddenly started ignoring you, probably it’s not the dog’s past making him fearful of you.

Dog Rescued From a Shelter

You would be surprised to know that about 72% of dogs have shown anxiety and aggressive behavior after being adopted from a shelter, claimed Svatava Vitulova and her colleagues. Although they look fine at first, after some time, they start to show fearful behavior towards you. Like humans, dogs also need a break to heal their wounds and acclimatize with your home environment and you.

A brown and white dog looking intentively

Scolding/Punishing Your Dog May Cause Fear

One reason your dog acting withdrawn may be that you have scolded him, even if it wasn’t your intention. Let’s say he has broken your beautiful vase, and you reacted disproportionately to him. He might interpret you as an aggressive human, and slowly, he will lose trust in you and be afraid of you.

Similarly, physical or direct interactive punishment makes your dog scared of you. Punishments should always be positive, mild, and properly timed, ideally within 2 – 3 seconds when a behavior starts. If you apply wrong punishment techniques, such as excessive scolding or throwing something at your dog which may hurt him, your dog will get scared of you and even your family members.

Shyness and lack of socialization

Being shy and lacking socialization can also be why a dog is afraid of you. This usually happens when you bring home an adolescent dog that remained isolated previously. As per Safarivet, “Puppies socializing between six and eight weeks respond to human beings much better as adults than puppies allowed to socialize before or after that time. Puppies that did not receive any socialization with [humans] during the critical period were essentially unapproachable and untrainable as young dogs and adults.”

A Dog looking sad

Similarly, Kennelosis, a syndrome that can occur after dogs are excessively caged in shelters and puppy mills, may also cause your pup to be scared of almost everything around him, including you.

Medical Issue

Lastly, medical issues. One day your dog is cuddling with you, and the other day, your dog is ignoring you. And when you try to come near, he feels scared. There could be an underlying health issue, perhaps a wound, or some other dog sickness. Since dogs can’t speak, but their behavior does, we can easily tell when they are not doing well. Their pain is then depicted in the form of fear and anxiety.

If it is a medical issue, it is not fear from you. This is just that he doesn’t want anyone to hurt him—and anyone may include the owner too.

Signs of a Scared Dog

Naturally, when a dog is scared of his pet owner, he adopts a fight or flight response. Either he will show his fear and become an aggressive dog or find different ways to avoid that.

Here are a few signs that you can observe in your canine pal.

Trembling With Fear

During the normal condition, dogs do not shake or tremble, but if you find your dog trembling and it is not cold, he might be afraid. Trembling is an emotional response due to stress and anxiety situations. If you find your dog trembling, you may not be the actual reason; there could be something else that has spooked your dog.

Try to make an appointment with a dog behaviorist who will guide you on how to deal with this psychological condition.


A gordon setter sitting in the middle of a road

Panting is a natural behavior in dogs, causing them to breathe heavily. This is important to overcome heatstroke, especially during heavy exercise and in summers.

However, the problem occurs when the canine is abnormally panting while confronting you. If such is the case, and if your dog shows a little bit of aggression, consider expert advice.

Dog Distancing Himself From a Pet Owner

A white dog standing on a road

Dogs get overjoyed upon seeing their owners. But if a dog distances himself from his owner, it is a red flag. For instance, when you enter the room and instead of greeting you happily, your dog leaves the room. Or when you try to show your love, he doesn’t reciprocate, your dog is scared of you.

Every dog adopts a different attitude during fear and anxiety behavior. Some dogs might prefer reserved behavior to show aggression to their owners.

Barking and Growling

Dogs are naturally friendly towards their keepers, but if you find your dog barking and growling at you, he is likely scared of you, especially when they show their vampire-like teeth.

chien terrier petite

Dog Refuses Your Proposal

Dogs usually accept whatever their owners offer them. If they are scared of you, there is a possibility that they won’t honor your proposal. Offer him a walk around the yard, a game of fetch, or food; if he doesn’t respond, he is likely afraid of you.

Hiding and Cowering

Dogs start to cower and hide from their owners when they scare them intentionally or unintentionally. Instead of fighting back, they try to hide and want to be invisible. They would tuck their tails and pull their ears back, showing signs of fear.

Submissive Urination

One of the signs of an afraid dog is urination. Known as submissive urination, your dog will urinate out of fear precisely when he gets spooked. There are many reasons for submissive urination, such as loud and angry voices, when someone greets them, or when someone approaches them. If your dog is afraid of you, he might urinate out of fear when you approach him.

If your dog has had an accident on a hardwood floor, you may want to check out Best Dog Urine Removers for Hardwood Floors In 2022: Our Top 4 Picks.

Tail Tucked Between Dog’s Legs During Fear

If you see your dog tucking his tail between their hind legs, it would be a clear sign that either you shouted at him or scared him with your behavior. This behavior shows that the dog is trying to be submissive and asking you not to hurt him.

My Dog is Afraid of Me. What Should I do?

We can’t see our dog avoiding us and treating us like we are strangers. How about adopting some tips to normalize your buddy? The intensity of the behavior you show towards your pet varies differently because of different experiences your canine buddy had been through, so you must tread cautiously.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *