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Why is My Dog Afraid of Other Dogs?

Black dog with a green leash looking afraid

Most people think of dogs as social animals, always keen to play with each other. Yet, some dogs are afraid of other dogs. It is a lot more common than most people think. There are lots of reasons for a dog being afraid of other dogs. However, once you recognize the signs that your furry friend is living in fear of another dog, you can help them overcome this fear and start enjoying their interactions again.

What are Signs my Dog is Afraid?

If you're unsure if your dog is actually afraid of other dogs or just a misanthrope, then there are some signs to look out for. If your dog displays these signs, it is likely that they're afraid of another dog and not just being rude! In some situations, you may be the cause of anxious behavior!


A scared dog will start to tremble when they’re faced with another dog. Even as the other looks playful and happy to encounter a potential new friend, your dog seizes up and begins to shake.


Beagle looking afraid of a white hairy terrier on a fall day

If your dog irrationally whines in fear to you when face to face with another of their own kind, this is a clear sign they’re afraid of the other dog. Even  barking might be a sign of fear.


This sign that your dog is afraid of other dogs is a bit of a strange one, but a lot of dogs urinate in fear. Some urinate when they're overexcited, or just generally overstimulated. This is the behavior you can train them not to do, but some dogs will urinate when they're overwhelmed or scared.

Hiding Behind the Owner

A dog that is afraid of other dogs might naturally seek protection from you! After all, they trust you so who better to defend them from the frightening other dogs. If your dog keeps doing this, it might mean that they’re afraid of another dog and not just shy.

Aggressive Behaviour

If your dog gets quite aggressive towards unknown dogs, this could be an overreaction to their own fear. A dog that is afraid of other dogs can pre-emptively begin to act aggressively, assuming that the other dog is going to be aggressive.

Why is My Dog Afraid of Other Dogs?

Light brown dog laying on their owner looking worried

If your dog is exhibiting any of those signs, the might not be as  social as normal and your dog might be afraid of other dogs. However, you could wonder why? How did your dog develop a pathological fear of running into their own kind? There are a few common explanations for a dog afraid of other dogs.

Past Trauma

If you haven’t been caring for your dog since they were a puppy, they may be afraid of other dogs because of past trauma. Bad experiences with dogs in the past can leave your pet scared of encountering new dogs. One bad experience can leave them assuming the worst of a new dog.

Lack of Socialization

Another explanation of a dog afraid of other dogs is that they didn’t get enough experience with other dogs when they were young. After your puppy leaves their mother and siblings, they should still be seeing over dogs regularly. Isolating them from others will make them less trusting of other dogs. It is important to properly socialize a dog so they understand that new dogs aren’t a threat and know how to act around them.

Fear of Reinforcement by Owner

A dog might be encouraged to be afraid of other dogs by their owners. An owner can inadvertently encourage a dog to be afraid of other dogs by rewarding this behavior. Fussing them to try and console them or indulging them can reward it, telling the dog that this is the right way to act.

How Can I Resolve This Issue?

Scared looking pug laying outside

If your dog is afraid of other dogs, you can help them. You and your pet don’t have to live in fear of a friendly dog on their walking route! These are some potential solutions you can try to rehabilitate your frightened dog.

Puppy School

Puppy School might seem like a bit of a harsh solution, but it does work. Alongside other key training like obedience, puppy school will teach a dog proper play with other dogs. It also provides a structured environment for healthy socialization.


Desensitizing to the prescience of other dogs can help your dog to gradually overcome their fear. This is going to take some time, but it works. You gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends with other dogs. This will help build up their confidence around other dogs as you gradually increase the length of this time.

Counter Conditioning

Counter conditioning is an effective way of dealing with a dog who is afraid of other dogs by building up their confidence and comfort. You should play with your dog and encourage normal behavior with other dogs around. They don’t have to be specifically playing with the other dogs, but this will help them to relax with other dogs around. When they feel more secure, they won’t be as afraid.

CBD for Anxiety

CBD Oil is  an effective treatment for most anxieties or fears in dogs, it can really help a dog who is afraid of other dogs. CBD Oil helps a dog stay relaxed around other dogs, making it easier to go through counter conditioning and avoiding stressful situations on walks.

Natural Doggie NON GMO All-Organic CBD Oil for dogs

Natural Doggie NON GMO All-Organic CBD Oil for dogs


How to Prevent a Dog from Being Afraid of Other Dogs

French bulldog sitting in a busy location looking scared

While treatments are effective for a dog who has already developed a fear of other dogs, they don’t do much good for puppies. If you want to prevent your dog from becoming afraid of other dogs, there are a few things you can do.

Avoid Dog Parks

Even a  good dog park can be a frightening and overwhelming experience for a dog. Avoiding them allows you to keep control of your dog’s socialization. Cutting out the opportunities for your dog to have a bad interaction with another dog goes a long way.

Monitor Socialization

By monitoring your dog’s socialization with other dogs you can prevent fear from developing. If they have no reason to fear other dogs, they won't. Controlling socialization means keeping your dog encounters with others positive, so they don’t develop a negative association with strange dogs.

Playdates with Known Dogs

Attempts to monitor socialization work fine when you’re in a controllable environment, but what about dogs you’ve never met before? While it is nice to assume the best of all dogs, if you want to control your dog’s socialization then you can’t trust dogs you don’t know. You shouldn’t have play dates unless you’re sure the other dog will behave!

Can You Help a Dog Afraid of Other Dogs?

Guilty looking brown dog with floppy ears

If your dog is exhibiting signs that they are afraid of other dogs, you don’t need to despair. Once you understand the reason, you can start to solve the problem. Build up their confidence and teach them that other dogs aren’t a threat to them. After this, your dog should be enjoying playdates and relax on walks without the fear of a new dog being around the corner.

For More SitStay Works Check Out

Why is my dog afraid of other dogs? By: Jordan Ashley

Jordan Ashley
Jordan is an experienced author who enjoys writing about all things dogs. He loves all animals and when he is not working he spends his time curled up with his two dogs playing video games and maybe enjoying a craft beer.

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