“Who wants to go outside?” is probably a question your dog knows and loves all too well. The word outside alone is oftentimes enough to cause excited barking and ferocious tail-wagging. Dogs enjoy the outdoors because, from their perspective, it’s where all the action happens: new smells and sights, physical activity, playtime with their owners to name a few of the many possible adventures. As much as you look forward to the warm weather spring and summer brings each year, your pup likely does even more because it means that much more time to explore the world.
All of the stimulation being outside provides for dogs doesn’t come without the occasional fear-inducing situation. Once outside, it’s nearly impossible to do anything — walk, go to the park, even play fetch together in the front lawn — without running into another dog or at the very least seeing one. If your dog is scared of other dogs, basking in the sun can turn from relaxing to stressful in an instant.
We discuss below how to tell if your dog is scared of other dogs, why that may be the case, and how to help them remain calm during encounters with their fellow four-legged friends:
Signs Your Dog Is Scared of Other Dogs
Dogs may display aggressive behavior in response to any stressful situation, but especially during run-ins with other dogs. When your dog is on a walk and comes across another dog, for instance, it’s difficult for them to flee because they’re bounded by a leash, so they might resort to their “fight” instinct to scare off the perceived threat.
If your dog exhibits any of the following behaviors around other dogs, it could be a sign that they’re scared:
- Licking lips or yawning in an exaggerated manner
- Slowing down or attempting to hide behind you while walking
- Growling or nipping at other dogs
- Refusing to play with you or other dogs
Why Your Dog Gets Scared Around Other Dogs
Dogs are naturally social creatures, and many thrive on running into their furry friends and meeting new ones. Some, however, get nervous at just the sight of another dog headed their way. There are a few possible explanations as to why your dog may fall under the nervous category:
- Lack of socialization: The first three months of puppy’s life are a crucial socialization period. Puppies who are exposed to variety of people, places, and situations during this time are typically more confident and friendly as adults.
- Previous trauma: Rescue dogs may be more unsure around other dogs, especially unfamiliar ones, as a result of their experiences in the past. A dog who was attacked by another dog earlier in their life, for example, will likely be timid when they encounter other dogs later on.
- Personality trait: Like humans, some dogs are simply shier than others. Dogs with this type of personality may be genetically predisposed to it. A pup who is born to a shy mom or dad might be the same as an adult too.
Helping Your Dog Overcome Their Fear of Other Dogs
It can be challenging to fully enjoy your time outside with your pup if they’re nervous and reactive around other dogs. Even dogs who are social butterflies can be skittish at times. Consider these five strategies the next time you’re out and about to help your dog stay calm and collected:
- Stick to low-stress situations: At least until your dog becomes more comfortable around others, avoid crowded dog parks or areas and instead invite another pet parent and their dog on a walk around your neighborhood.
- Bring along your dog’s favorite treats: Pick out a treat your dog normally can’t resist and reward them with it after an encounter.
- Encourage your dog to step outside of their comfort zone: Take every opportunity you can to help your dog get used to being around other dogs — when you’re on a walk, sitting at the park, etc. It’s never too late to help a shy dog become confident and social. Practice makes perfect!
- BUT…always remain patient and listen to your dog’s needs: Never force your dog to interact with another dog if they’re acting out and you’re unable to calm them down.
- Keep Kradle in your purse or pocket to ease the nerves: All three Kradle products — Chews, Toppers, Melts — are offered in small, portable containers or packets, making them easy-to-carry and -use. You and your dog can both feel prepared for potential encounters with other dogs, knowing you can rely on Kradle. Click below to start shopping.