Management & Training

Socialization Problems: What to Do If My Dog Is Afraid of Other Dogs?

Dog Is Afraid of Other Dogs

Is it hard for you to even think about taking your pooch to the dog park? Find out the answer to the question, “What to do if my dog is afraid of other dogs?” in this blog post.

Does your dog get stressed out when he’s around other dogs?

If your dog’s ears go down, his tail goes between his legs, and he cowers or growls at the other dog, then, there are high chances that he’s afraid of other dogs.

Fear is necessary for survival and an emotion that all animals experience.

However, if it arises at inappropriate times and turns into a phobia, it can be problematic. In this blog post, we will answer the question, “What to do if my dog is afraid of other dogs?” in detail and help you get to the bottom of things.

Let’s begin.

Why’s My Dog Scared of Other Dogs?

Before we talk about the things you can do, let’s talk about why your furry friend is afraid of other dogs, to begin with.

Lack of Socialization

If your dog was separated from his mother and siblings at a very early age, the chances are that he didn’t learn to socialize and didn’t learn how to be a dog. This is also true if your dog didn’t have much interaction with other dogs during puppyhood.

The good news is that adult dogs can be socialized. However, it isn’t as effective as socializing puppies.


Traumatic Experiences

What would happen if you almost drowned as a kid? You may probably be afraid of water.

The same is true for your dog.

If he’s had a traumatic experience or two with other dogs–especially during puppyhood–the chances are that he’ll be afraid of other dogs and be aggressive towards them in the future.

Reinforcement of the Fear

In your efforts to make your dog feel comfortable when he’s scared, you might talk to him softly, stroke him, and try to calm him down. But, what you’re doing is reinforcing your dog’s behavior.

You’re telling him that he’s right in being afraid.

The Answer: What to Do If My Dog Is Afraid of Other Dogs?

First of foremost, forcing your dog into a stressful situation–such as going near another dog is never a good idea.

Instead, whenever you’re around another dog, try to be calm and act naturally. Trying to calm your dog down or comforting him only reinforces his fear so, no matter how hard it may be for you, try to remain calm.

Here are a few things that you can try:

  • Counter-conditioning: Distract your dog by playing with him while other dogs are around. This will help your dog relax, and he’ll find being around other dogs means he gets to have fun with you
  • Habituation: It’s best to expose your dog to other dogs to help him get over his fears. Take your pooch out for a walk at a time when you know that other dogs will be around. This simple act will help your dog understand that other dogs aren’t a threat
  • Desensitization: With this technique, you’ll have to expose your dog to other dogs gradually. It’s best to keep your dog at a safe distance and have a calm dog around him. Day by day, you can start bringing your dog closer to the other dog. As your dog becomes more comfortable around gentle dogs, you can introduce him to excitable dogs as well

No technique is superior to the others. In some cases desensitization works like a charm, while in others habituation does.

The effectiveness of the technique depends on your dog’s personality.


When to Seek Professional Help

If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs yet scared of them, it is better to seek professional help. Dog trainers can help your dog behave around other dogs, and they have a lot of experience with such issues.

In Conclusion: What to Do If My Dog Is Afraid of Other Dogs?

Dogs are social and pack animals, so they aren’t usually afraid of other dogs. It’s not an innate fear; it is something that they’ve learned in life.

Dogs that haven’t been around other dogs during puppyhood usually show signs of fear and distress when around other dogs. For some, traumatic incidents with other dogs are the root cause of the fear.

However, there are a few things that you can do to help your dog overcome this.

In this blog post, we mentioned three techniques you can use:

  • Habituation
  • Desensitization
  • Counter conditioning

Do you have questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.