Why Is My Dog Afraid of Strangers?

Why Is My Dog Afraid of Strangers?

It’s great to see our dog being friendly and plays with other people, even strangers. Particular dog breeds are naturally friendly to everyone, such as labrador, beagle, golden retriever, Brittany, and many more. On the contrary, there are also dog breeds that are not-so-friendly to strangers, such as chihuahua, Siberian husky, chowchow, etc. However, many people that own these breeds of dogs say that they are not aggressive at all. It just means that many factors could affect our dog’s behavior, not just breed.

Many dogs become extremely afraid when they saw a stranger. I’ve had this dog before who growls and bark at strangers and suddenly hide afterward. I didn’t know why he was doing that since everyone in the family is friendly and sweet toward him. Understanding the causes will help us determine the appropriate ways to correct them. Below are the reasons why our dogs are afraid of strangers and what we can do about it.

Why is my Dog Afraid of Strangers?

1) Past Traumatic Experience

It usually happens to dogs or puppies that have been rescued from maltreatment and abuse. They can develop fear and anxiety and suddenly become afraid of strangers. And they tend to hide around a corner and avoid people, especially with unfamiliar faces. They could have a PSTD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a severe anxiety disorder caused by extremely traumatic events such as brutality and maltreatment. One of the symptoms of a dog who has PSTD is the fear of people or strangers.

Furthermore, the aggressive behavior of people towards the dog could also cause trauma to the dog-either from the shelter or its previous owners,

When the anxiety and stress are not severe, it is more likely to subside within three months. However, when it’s serious, it may take years for them to recover along with treatments and training.

What do we need to do if our dog is suddenly afraid of strangers?

As their owner, we need to be patient with our dogs with this kind of behavior. We should treat them with care and calmness so they would feel comfortable. They need to adopt a friendly and positive attitude from us to apply it when meeting others. Also, keep their environment stress-free.

Moreover, they might also need medical care and attention. It’s better to discuss it with the vet, particularly someone who specializes in the behavior of dogs, so he/she could prescribe the appropriate medication and guides us on what steps to do next. Exercise and play therapy may also be recommended. Also, consider getting a certified dog trainer who would do behavioral management training that may include playtime with a well-socialized dog.

2) Genetic Influence

If we raise our dogs ever since it was a baby and no reason may have caused them to be traumatized, it could also be something genetic. The breed can strongly influence dogs’ behaviors. A dog can be genetically predisposed to being fearful that’s why he is afraid of people he doesn’t know.

A recent study where researchers contacted Finnish dog breed clubs to reach out to dog owners around the world and asked them to rate their dogs’ behavior that includes general fear. They have received 13,700 responses. Results have shown that the Spanish water dogs, Shetland dogs, and mixed breed are the most fearful dog, and 15% of them were afraid of strangers. Therefore, breeds can also be a factor in the behavior of dogs.

What do we need to do?

Keeping everything stress-free for our dogs would help them be calm and comfortable. Surrounding them with a friendly environment would make them feel safe. We can also bring them to places where they see other people, so they get used to it. Yet, they can also undergo obedience training through a certified trainer or a behaviorist.

3) Lack of Socialization

When our dogs are isolated inside our home, they do not have a chance to see other dogs or people except their family members. They are more likely to develop fear not just with people but with a new environment. They should be exposed to other people while they are still a puppy. It has also been discussed in a study that exposing them while they are still a puppy is a key component of producing a well-behaved adult dog, and are suited to live with humans in today’s modern society.

Poor socialization in our dogs could also cause them to become aggressive along with that fear. They would often hide from people, and if we try to get them out, they will more likely show temperament and aggression, and worst, they can bite out of fear.

How to train a dog not to be afraid of strangers?

As I mentioned above, we need to expose our dogs to other people and new environments during their young age. With that, they can adapt to the changes in their surroundings while they mature. If we got our dogs when they’re already adults, then it’s a bit harder to overcome this fear. Dogs also adopt their owner’s moods, so be careful about what you show them. Also, consider taking them to the park for walks regularly or invite people over to your house. We should be patient with our dog because it may take time and requires a lot of repetition.

On the other hand, aggressive dogs can use a muzzle to prevent them from biting or attacking. Cesar’s Way recommends the funny muzzle. Because of its funny appearance, it would make the people around him feel calm and even laugh that our dog could also adapt.

The Takeaway if Your Dog is scared of strangers

As owners, we need to be aware of what causes the behavioral problems in our dogs. They don’t know what they are doing, and they need our help. It should start in our house by surrounding them with a stress-free environment. Remember, we are their role model, yet, there can also be instances that we need to seek professional help for our dogs. It can be a long process, but we need to be patient and understanding. The time will come that we see our dogs finally have overcome their fear and will be able to socialize with other people.