Do Dogs Fear Their Owners? 4 Signs of Scared Dog



  • Yes, some dogs have fear of their owners.
  • The yelling of owners or negative stimuli induces fear in the dogs.
  • In fear, physical changes such as an increase in heart rates, quick breathing, and sweating are observed.
  • In dogs, fear of an owner can be reduced by consulting a behaviorist, positive reinforcement or treatment and by giving them space or time.

It’s no secret that dogs are sensitive creatures. They have emotions and respond accordingly. Many dog owners have experienced their dogs acting fearfully around them, but is this because they are afraid of their owner or is it something else?

Do dogs fear their owners? Or could it be that the dog is reacting to something else in the environment or maybe they are just not feeling well? Let’s explore this topic a little further.

Do Dogs Fear Their Owners? Some Dogs have Fear

Yes, a dog may fear their owner if the owner frequently yells, hits or otherwise punishes the dog. The dog may also feel fear if they are neglected or left alone for long periods of time. If a dog’s basic needs are not being met, it may respond with fear.

It’s important to remember that dogs are individuals and will react differently to various situations. Some dogs may not show any fear even if their owner is behaving aggressively, while others may cower at the slightest raised voice.

Yelling, punishing by owners induces fear in dogs - do dogs fear their owners

Fear can cause physical changes in dogs. Their heart rates may increase, their breathing may quicken, and they may start to sweat (yes, dogs do sweat).

If you think your dog is afraid of you, it’s important to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to get to the root of the problem and find a way to help your dog feel more comfortable around you.

Why Do Dogs Fear Their Owners? Reasons of Fear

There are a number of reasons why dogs might start to feel afraid of their owners. One possibility is that their owner has inadvertently been reinforcing fearful behavior. It’s also possible that a dog’s prior experience with other humans has led them to be mistrustful of people in general.

If a dog has been abused or neglected by previous owners, it may be leery of all humans—including its current owner. Fortunately, with patience and consistent positive reinforcement, most dogs can overcome their fears and learn to trust again.

A fearful dog - do dog fear their owners

Other reasons that might contribute to a dog’s fearfulness are genetics, age, and health.

Some dogs are simply more prone to anxiety and fear than others due to their genes and cannot help it. Just like people, some dogs are just naturally shy while others are outgoing and confident.

Puppies and senior dogs may also be more prone to fearfulness as they may not have had much exposure to the world and may be more easily overwhelmed.

Dogs with health problems may also start to feel more fearful as their condition deteriorates and they become less able to cope with everyday life.

How do you tell if dog is scared of you? Signs of a scared Dog

There are a few ways you can tell if your dog is scared of you. For example,

  • They may cower or hide when you come near them, shake, tremble, have their tail between their legs, avoid eye contact, or try to get away from you.
  • The standing fur, also known as hackles, along their back may also be raised. Dogs may also start to pant or drool excessively when they are feeling fear. Dogs stiffen their body in fear of their owners.
  • If your dog is fearfully aggressive, it may growl, snap, or bite at you. It’s important to never punish a dog for showing fearful aggression as this will only make the problem worse.
  • The dogs with fear of an owner track the movement of their owner with their eyes and try to predict what their owner is going to do next. Fearful dogs don’t accept the treats from their owner’s hand.
Signs of fear of owners in dogs

Dogs with any of these behaviors are scared of you. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some of these signs could also indicate that the dog is not feeling well, so it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian to be sure.

Why should you not yell at your dog? Fear in Dog

Yelling at your dog is not an effective way to discipline them and can actually make the problem worse. When you yell at your dog, they may become even more afraid of you and start to associate you with negative experiences.

This will only serve to make the problem worse and make it harder for you to train your dog. If you need to discipline your dog, do so in a calm and assertive voice. Never punish your dog for being afraid as this will not help.

If you think your dog is afraid of you, the best thing you can do is consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to get to the root of the problem and find a way to help your dog feel more comfortable around you.

How to make my Dog not scared of Me? Cure a Fearful Dog

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable around you and start to overcome its fear.

1. Consult a Professional Trainer or Behaviorist

If your dog is exhibiting signs of fear, the first step is to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist. They will be able to help you assess the situation and come up with a plan to help your dog feel more comfortable.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help your dog feel more secure.

2. Positive Reinforcement or Treat

Positive reinforcement is key in helping a dog overcome its fear. Whenever your dog does something brave, make sure to give them lots of praise and rewards. This will help them associate good things with being around you and will make them more likely to want to approach you in the future.

Positive reinforcement reduces fear in dogs

3. Avoid Fear Triggering Situations

You can try to avoid situations that trigger their fear, provide them with a safe place to retreat to if they start to feel afraid, and give them plenty of positive reinforcement when they display brave behaviors.

4. Give them Space and Time

It’s important to give your dog space and time to adjust to you. Do not try to force them to interact with you if they are not ready. This will only make them more scared. Instead, take things slow and let them approach you when they are ready.

With time, patience, and positive reinforcement, most dogs can overcome their fear of their owners and develop a strong bond. However, some dogs may always be fearful and may need to be managed to help them feel more comfortable.

Can fearfulness lead to aggression in dogs?

In some cases, yes. If a dog feels threatened or frightened, it may react by growling, barking, lunging, snapping, or biting. This is usually done out of self-protection and is not meant as an act of aggression towards their owner.

However, it’s important to take care of your dog does exhibit any type of aggressive behavior and seek professional help if necessary.


Our furry friends are sensitive creatures who can pick up on our emotions—including fear. While it’s normal for dogs to feel some level of fear from time to time, excessive fearfulness can lead to physical and behavioral changes in our canine companions.

If your dog seems afraid of you or is exhibiting signs of anxiety, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for guidance on how best to help them feel more comfortable and trusting again.

Is your pet dog feel comfortable with you or show signs of fear? Share your experience in the comments below.


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  3. Herron, M. E., Shofer, F. S., & Reisner, I. R. (2009). Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117(1-2), 47-54.
  4. Blackwell, E. J., Twells, C., Seawright, A., & Casey, R. A. (2008). The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 3(5), 207-217.

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