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9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Afraid Of You + 3 Tips

My Dog Is Suddenly Afraid Of Me

You’re about to greet your dog…

But instead of a happy bark and wagging tail…

You’re welcomed with a whimper and a tucked tail.

Your pooch used to love being around you.

But now they tremble and cower in fear at your sight.

It’s breaking your heart and you don’t know what to do.

No need to beat yourself up, you’ve found the right article.

Keep reading to find out:

  • 9 reasons your dog is suddenly afraid of you.
  • How your body gesture affects your dog’s behavior.
  • 3 tips you can do when your dog is frightened of you.
  • Things you’re unintentionally doing that’s making your dog scared of you.
  • And many more…

Why is my dog suddenly afraid of me?

Your dog is suddenly afraid of you because of punishment, a bad experience, or remembering a traumatic experience. It could also be due to illness, aging, lack of socialization, shyness, genetics, or neutering. Your body language may also cause them to be afraid of you.

9 reasons why your dog is suddenly afraid of you

#1: It’s due to a bad experience with you

Your furry friend is afraid of you and you don’t know why.

But think hard… Maybe you did something that made them flee from you in fear.

Let’s take the experience of one pet parent as an example.

Lulu shared that while she was in the kitchen, she accidentally stepped on her dog’s foot. 

And due to her surprise, she screamed a loud “Aaargh!”.

Once she went to her dog, she noticed that the poor pup looked nervous.

She mentioned that the pup used to be affectionate to her.

But after the incident, her pup cowers in fear whenever she’s around.

This shows that due to the pain and loud sound, they have become afraid of their owner.

It may not have been intentional but dogs still see it as a bad experience. And have now related it to the person.


Did you know that punishment only causes fear? And affects a dog’s well-being?

A study even proved this to be true. The researchers showed that when dogs are punished, they become more stressed and anxious.

This is why we should never use punishment to discipline our fur babies.

As dog parents, there could be times that we make mistakes.

Perhaps you’ve acted out of anger. And didn’t realize punishing your dog.

It could be the one time they rummage your trash and you’ve yelled at them.

Or the time they jump on a stranger and you’ve pulled their leash hard.

These actions could make your pooch afraid of you. 

Another common mistake that dog owners do is scolding their dogs after they’ve done something bad.

For example, you go home and had been welcomed by a mess in the living room. Your pooch comes to you and out of frustration, you scold them.

This is wrong because it will only cause confusion and fear to your dog. And it will only make them think that coming close to you means being yelled at.

Other reasons why we should never use punishment are the following:

  • It will break your bond.
  • It prevents a dog’s learning process.
  • It doesn’t provide them with information.
  • It will make your dog lose their trust in you.
  • It will only make you and your dog feel bad.

Check out also: Why Is My Dog Avoiding Me All Of A Sudden? 11 Real Reasons

#2: Your dog has been through a traumatic experience

When we adopt dogs, we won’t always know their whole story.

They might have experienced something traumatic from their previous homes. 

And if you do something that makes them remember the trauma, it could set off sudden feelings of fear.

Let’s take this story for example…

The pet parent and his brother had an argument.

In an uncontrollable rage, he climbs up the stairs while stomping loudly on each step. He also did this while shouting back at his brother.

Unfortunately, his dog was also climbing the stairs while this happened. So the frightened pup run upstairs and hid.

The pet parent felt guilty. But when he went to the dog, she curled up and accidentally peed on the floor.

He later found out that the dog was frightened of loud noises. This was because the previous owner used to shout at the pooch all the time.

Dogs who experienced past abuse are especially sensitive to the slightest movements. 

They may easily get afraid of a particular action, tone of voice, or hand gesture. 

And this may cause them to be suddenly afraid of their owners.

So if you’re wondering how you can help them overcome their trauma.

PetMD recommends the following tips:

  • Building their confidence.
  • Giving them an area to retreat.
  • Learning to read their body language.
  • Considering the help of professionals.
  • Creating a safe and healthy environment.

#3: Your dog is feeling ill

Your Dog Is Suddenly Afraid Of You When He Feels Ill

Sometimes, the reason your pooch is suddenly scared of you is that they’re feeling sick.

Sudden behavioral changes happen when dogs don’t feel well. It may also make them fearful.

As responsible fur parents, we should do our part in keeping our fur babies healthy.

They can’t exactly tell us how they feel. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of illness. 

Some common signs to watch out for are:

  • Hair loss.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Coughing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Pale gums.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Dry or cloudy eyes.
  • Weight loss or gain.

Note: If you notice any of these signs, always consult your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

When they’re sick, there may also be parts of their body that are hurting.

If you don’t realize they’re in pain and you’ve touched that certain body part. Then this could also cause them to be suddenly scared of you.

For example, if your pooch has stomach problems and you’ve snuggled with them a little too tight.

This could make them hide away from you when you try to do it again.

#4: It’s due to their old age

Just like us, a dog’s health declines as they age.

Because of this, it’s common for senior dogs to go through changes in their behavior.

As they get old, they would also become disoriented. And this could be the reason they’re scared of you.

However, there are also cases when old dogs may be suffering from dementia.

“What? Dogs can have dementia?”

Yes, it’s also called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).

This condition is usually left untreated since it’s often mistaken as just a sign of getting old.

VCA mentions that the signs to determine if your pooch has CCD are:

  • Anxiety.
  • Memory loss.
  • House soiling.
  • Disorientation.
  • Variations in activity levels.
  • Changes in social interaction.
  • Differences in sleep-wake cycles.

When your old buddy has this condition, they may have a hard time recognizing you.

Being patient and compassionate are key to taking care of an old dog.

It’s the same for those with dementia. But there are also other ways you can do to help improve their quality of life.

These are:

  • Letting them play with puzzle toys.
  • Keeping a consistent environment.
  • Making sure they still go on daily walks.
  • Ensuring their microchip or collar is updated.
  • Providing them with easy access to food and water.

Note: If you notice any signs of CCD in your dog, contact your vet immediately.

#5: Your dog lacks socialization

Socialization is a crucial part of a dog’s life. It’s recommended to let a puppy socialize during the first 12-14 weeks of their life.

It’s essential for them to be exposed to positive experiences with different animals, people, and places.

This will help puppies grow into confident and happy adult dogs.

A study also showed that the early socialization of puppies can make a huge difference in their behavior. 

So if they were not properly socialized, they will become fearful. And they’ll be afraid of just about anything including you.

If you’re wondering how you can help a dog who lacks socialization. 

Aside from getting help from a professional trainer, you can also do the following:

  • Creating a positive environment.
  • Introducing them to new things one at a time.
  • Praising them when they react positively to new things.
  • Watching signs of stress and knowing when to give them space.

#6: They’re just shy

Another reason your pup is scared of you is that they’re just shy.

Remember that like humans, dogs have their own personalities.

Some could be confident and some timid. Some are friendly and some prefer being alone.

So if they seem to keep away from you, don’t get upset. It could simply be part of their personality.

There are times when dogs shouldn’t be forced into certain situations. 

Imagine if you have a shy personality and someone forced you to talk in front of an audience?

How would you feel? You would feel more nervous, right?

Plus, you might also feel upset with the person who forced you to do it.

Somehow, this is the same with dogs. 

If you forced a shy pup to do something they don’t want. Instead of learning, they will only become more afraid.

They might also associate this negative experience with you. And could also be the reason why they’re scared of you. 

To know how to teach a shy dog, watch the video below:

#7: It’s part of your dog’s genetics

Aside from personality, your dog’s genetics can also be the reason why they’re suddenly afraid.

As ironic as this may sound but some dogs are born “scaredy-cats”.

Fear is something they can inherit from their dog parents. And being afraid is something they just naturally have.

The following are some of the timidest dog breeds:

  • Mastiff.
  • Maltese.
  • Papillon.
  • Akita Inu.
  • Dalmatian.
  • Greyhound.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Great Dane.
  • Yorkshire Terrier.

However, it doesn’t mean that your dog is fearful if they’re part of the breeds mentioned above.

It would also depend on their environment and how they grew up.

#8: Your dog has been neutered

There would be a time when you have to decide whether to get your dog neutered or not.

And if you’re having a hard time deciding, you’re not alone. Most paw parents go through the same conflicting choices.

But if decided to go for it, you might notice some behavioral changes in your pooch.

One research showed that neutering may cause dogs to become more aggressive and fearful.

And this could be why they’re suddenly scared of you. Of course, this isn’t always the case but it does happen. 

Sometimes, the changes depend on a dog’s temperament. 

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of neutering:

Lessens sexual desiresWeight gain
Keeps them from breedingChanges in physical appearance
Reduces risk of prostate cancerRisk of developing hypothyroidism

Note: It’s best to discuss with a vet first to learn how neutering will affect your dog’s health.

#9: It’s your body language

Did you know that dogs are experts in reading our body language?

This is why dogs look at our hand gestures before doing a command.

And why they know what we’re feeling by our facial expressions.

Using body language is important to help your dog feel safe in your presence.

But there are also times when it could intimidate your dog. 

An example of this is the experience of one lady with her first dog named Maddie.

Maddie had a hard time learning how to do her business outside. 

So every time the owner went home, she finds poop by their door.

And when this happens, the owner would huff and shoot dirty looks at the dog.

This resulted in Maddie hiding whenever her owner huffs or looks at her. She does this even if she didn’t do anything wrong. 

There are also some dogs who flinch when someone raises their hand. 

Some dogs may also feel threatened if your body language is different from what you’re saying.

Maybe they ask you to play but you’re scowling while doing it. 

You might not notice it but this shows your dog that you’re not really having fun.

And might end up not playing with you again.

What to do when your dog is suddenly afraid of you? 3 tips

#1: Take it slow

Your dog is suddenly scared and you don’t know what to do?

I know it hurts your feelings and you want to gain their trust back as soon as possible.

But remember, patience is key. Don’t force your dog to give their attention to you.

What you should do first is give your dog time and let them be. Giving them space can help them feel comfortable. 

Then let them decide when to interact with you. Wait for them to be the first to make contact.

If they don’t do any of these, don’t get angry. It will only make things worse.

It takes time but with lots of patience and consistency, they will soon be your best bud again.

#2: Positive reinforcement

Using positive reinforcement means giving your dog a reward when they do something good.

And what kind of reward do dogs can’t resist? A yummy treat!

Although, there can be terrified dogs who won’t accept any treats. It’s still possible to gain your pup’s trust back by doing this.

You can do this by giving them a treat whenever they approach you. Or they allowed you to touch them.

You could also try placing a treat beside you. As this would tempt them to come close to you.

Praising them even if they make a small step towards you will also help.

#3: Go out and bond with them

Going on walks and playing with your pooch can also help you gain your dog’s trust back. 

These are great ways to build your bond. And may help remind them how fun you can be.

Just remember to be consistent in their routines.

And always make sure that you’re not forcing them to have fun.