Do Dogs Feel Fear? Scientific Studies Reveals So



  • Yes, dogs do feel fear as humans do.
  • Dogs have fear of loud voices, unfamiliar places or people, fear of other animals and phobia of separation anxiety.
  • Counterconditioning, positive reinforcement and seeking help from professional behaviorists can help a dog to overcome fear.

Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the world. They are known for their loyalty and companionship. But do dogs feel fear?

It is natural for dogs to be afraid of some things. After all, they are not as big or strong as humans. But, just like people, each dog has his or her own personality and level of fear.

This article will explore the concept of fear in dogs. We will look at what causes fear in dogs and how it is expressed. We will also discuss ways to help a fearful dog.

Do Dogs Feel Fear? Scientific Studies

Dogs have feelings of fear because they have a brain that releases chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenaline, in response to stress or fear.

Dogs also show facial expressions known as the “fear grimace.” This is when the dog pulls back his lips, exposing his front teeth. The fear grimace is thought to be a way for dogs to make themselves look less threatening and hopefully avoid conflict.

There have been several scientific studies conducted on fear in dogs. In one study, puppies were exposed to various stimuli, such as loud noises and unfamiliar people. The results showed that the puppies responded with fear when they were exposed to these things.

Thinking? do dogs feel fear? yes they do

Another study looked at whether or not dogs can recognize fear in other dogs. The results of this study showed that dogs can indeed recognize fear in other dogs. This suggests that dogs may be able to empathize with each other when it comes to fear.

So, what do these studies tell us? They show that dogs are capable of feeling fear. But, just like people, the level of fear may vary from dog to dog.

What Causes Fear in Dogs?

There are many things that can cause fear in dogs. Some dogs may be afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks. Others may be afraid of unfamiliar people or animals. And some dogs may even be afraid of things that they have never seen before, such as vacuums or cars.

In most cases, the root cause of fear is unknown. But, there are some circumstances that may make a dog more likely to be afraid.

For example, puppies who are not socialized early on in life may be more fearful of new people and experiences.

Dogs who have had negative experiences, such as being abused or neglected, may also be more fearful. And, dogs who come from breeds that are naturally shy or timid may be more prone to fearfulness.

Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that fear is a natural emotion. Dogs, just like people, need to feel safe and secure.

If you think your dog may be suffering from fear or anxiety, please consult your veterinarian. There are many ways to help a fearful dog, and with patience and love, you can help your furry friend overcome his or her fears.

Do dogs feel fear like humans?

Yes, dogs feel fear like humans. A study published in “American Veterinary Medical Association ” in 2020 found that dogs show many of the same physical and behavioral signs of fear as humans do.

When dogs are afraid, their heart rates go up, they pant and their pupils dilate. They may also try to make themselves look small by crouching down or tucking their tails between their legs. Dogs may also whine, tremble or hide when they are afraid.

Signs of fear in dogs as humans do

What smells are dogs afraid of? Smells dog Hate

In dogs, the sense of smell is highly developed. Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and it is believed that they can remember up to 50,000 different scents. A dog’s fear of certain smells may be due to their keen sense of smell picking up on something that we cannot detect.

Dogs are afraid of many smells, some of which we may not even be aware of. Here is a list of 10 smells that dogs are afraid of:

1. Citrus fruits

Dogs are particularly afraid of citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. The strong smell of these fruits can cause irritation and even pain for dogs. Essential oils containing citrus fruits should never be used around dogs.

dogs are afraid of some smells

2. Vinegar

Vinegar is another strong smell that can cause irritation to a dog’s nose. It is best to avoid using vinegar-based cleaners or products around dogs.

3. Peppermint

Peppermint is a popular scent for many people, but dogs are not fans. The minty smell can be overwhelming for dogs and may cause them to sneeze or experience difficulty breathing.

4. Chocolate

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can make them very sick. The smell of chocolate can be tempting for dogs, so it is important to keep it out of their reach.

5. Coffee

Coffee has a strong smell that can be overpowering for dogs. It is best to keep coffee beans and grounds out of reach of dogs as the smell can be irritating.

6. Perfumes

Perfumes and colognes are strong scents that can be overwhelming for dogs. Many perfumes contain citrus or minty scents that can cause irritation. It is best to avoid using these products around dogs.

7. Cleaning products

Dogs are also afraid of the strong smells of cleaning products. Many of these products contain chemicals that can be harmful to dogs if inhaled or ingested. It is important to keep these products out of reach of dogs.

8. Ammonia

Ammonia is a common ingredient in many cleaning products. It is also a by-product of urine. The strong smell of ammonia can be irritating to dogs and may cause them to sneeze or experience difficulty breathing.

9. Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol has a strong smell that can be irritating to dogs. It is best to avoid using products containing rubbing alcohol around dogs. It is a smell that dogs hate. Dogs can’t stand the smell of alcohol and it can be dangerous for them.

10. Tobacco

 Dogs are also afraid of cigarette smoke. The tar and nicotine in cigarettes can be harmful to dogs. Tobacco smoke is harmful to dogs and can cause them to experience difficulty breathing. The strong smell of tobacco can also be irritating to dogs. It is best to avoid smoking around dogs.

11. Beauty Products

Many beauty products, such as hair spray, lotion, and perfume, contain chemicals that can be irritating to dogs. The strong smell of these products can also be overwhelming for dogs. It is best to avoid using these products around dogs.

12. Food

Dogs are also afraid of certain foods. Some foods, such as onions, garlic, and chocolate, can be poisonous to dogs. Other foods, such as coffee and tea, can be irritants. It is important to keep these foods out of reach of dogs.

13. Chili and Hot Pepper

These are deterrents for dogs as the capsaicin in chili and hot peppers can irritate a dog’s nose.

How do you know if your dog is scared? Signs of Fear in Dogs

There are many ways to tell if your dog is scared. Their body language will give it away. Here are some common signs that your dog is afraid:

  • Cower or crouch down low to the ground.
  • The tail may be between their legs.
  • Ears may be back and flattened against their head.
  • Hackles (the hair on their back) may be raised.
  • Panting or drooling more than usual.
  • Try to hide behind you or another object.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Eyes may be wide and bulging.
  • Pupils may be dilated.
  • Urinating or defecating in fear (this is known as “submissive urination”).
  • May become aggressive in an attempt to defend themselves.

Four Common Phobias in Dogs

Dogs can be afraid of many things, including loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, sudden movements, and unfamiliar environments.

Here are some of the most common phobias in dogs:

1. Phonophobia – Sounds Phobia

Dogs can be afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, and gunshots. This fear can be caused by a traumatic event or by genetics. Dogs with this phobia may try to hide, Pant excessively, pace, or become aggressive.

2. Xenophobia – Fear of unfamiliar people or animals

Dogs can be afraid of people or animals they do not know. This fear is often caused by a lack of socialization or by a traumatic event. Some dogs have fear of strangers while others may be fearful due to abusive experiences. 

Dogs sometimes have fear of people that wears hat, glasses or beards. They may have fear of other dogs due to any negative experience in the past like a fight with another dog. Dogs can be afraid of unfamiliar environments, such as a new home, a car, or an airplane.

3. Fear of vet visits

Dogs can be afraid of vet visits, such as when they are in the waiting room or getting a shot. Blood injection phobias are common in dogs.

4. Phobia of Separation Anxiety

 Anxious Dogs can be afraid of being separated from their guardians. This fear is often caused by a lack of socialization or by a traumatic event. Dogs with separation anxiety may bark, howl, destroy furniture, have accidents in the house, or become aggressive.

How to help a dog overcome fear? 6 Common Ways

There are many ways that will help a dog to overcome fear. Here are a few ways;

1. Desensitization and Counterconditioning

The first step is to identify the trigger of the fear. Once the trigger is identified, it is important to slowly expose the dog to the trigger in a positive and controlled manner. This process is known as “desensitization and counterconditioning.” The goal is to help the dog learn that there is nothing to be afraid of.

2. Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can also be helpful in helping a dog overcome their fear. When the dog displays positive behaviors, such as not being scared or hiding, it should be rewarded with treats or positive attention.

A way that helps the dogs to overcome fear

3. Avoid Punishment

Punishment is not recommended for dogs who are afraid, as it can further aggravate the situation. If a dog is punished for being scared, it may become even more fearful and may start to hide from its guardians completely.

4. Seek Professional Help

If the fear is severe or if the dog is displaying signs of aggression, it is best to seek professional help. A behaviorist can help create a plan to help the dog overcome their fear in a safe and controlled way.

5. Socialize the Dog

Help your dog socialize by taking them to puppy class, the dog park, or on walks in new neighborhoods. It is important for dogs to interact with people and other animals in a positive way.

6. Be Patient

Fear can be a difficult emotion to overcome, so it is important to be patient with your dog. Each dog will learn at their own pace and it may take some time for them to feel comfortable around the trigger of their fear.

Related FAQs

Can dogs actually sense fear?

Dogs can sense fear in people. They can smell it in our sweat and they can see it in our body language. In dogs, the olfactory sense is up to 10,000 times more acute than ours. This means they can smell our fear even when we try to hide it. Dogs also have a special ability to see into the ultraviolet light spectrum. This allows them to see things that we cannot, such as the whites of our eyes. When we are scared, the blood vessels in our eyes dilate and the whites of our eyes become more visible. This is known as the “fear stare” and dogs can pick up on it.

Will dogs bite if they sense fear?

Dogs may bite if they sense fear in someone. They may also bite if they feel threatened or scared. If you are worried that a dog may bite you, it is best to avoid them. If you must approach a dog, it is important to do so slowly and calmly. Do not make any sudden movements or loud noises. Speak in a soft, soothing voice. Let the dog sniff you before you try to pet them. If a dog feels scared or threatened, they may bite in self-defense.

What do dogs do when they sense fear?

Dogs may try to hide when they sense fear. They may also bark, howl, or become aggressive. Some dogs will urinate or defecate in fear (this is known as “submissive urination”). If a dog feels threatened or scared, they may bite in self-defense. If they sense fear in human, they become more aggressive and attacks. They avoid unfamiliar people or animals.

Do dogs attack when they sense fear?

Dogs may attack when they sense fear if they feel threatened or scared. Dogs bark, howl or become aggressive. If a dog feels threatened or scared, they may bite in self-defense. If you show anxiety to a dog they may become more aggressive in an attempt to defend themselves.

Can dogs sense adrenaline?

Dogs can sense adrenaline in people. When a person is scared then he releases the fight or flight hormone named adrenaline in his body and a dog can sense it. Humans can’t sense this hormone but the senses of dogs are so strong that they can detect it.

Can dogs smell fear in other dogs?

Dogs can also sense fear in other dogs. They do this by reading their body language and facial expressions. Dogs that are afraid may have their tails between their legs, their ears back, and their hackles up. They may also avoid eye contact and try to hide behind their guardians.


Dogs can feel fear from people and other animals. If a dog feels threatened or scared, they may bite in self-defense. Dogs sometimes have four common phobias due to traumatic events.

It is important to be patient with your dog and never force them to interact with someone or something that they are afraid of. If the fear is severe, it is best to seek professional help.

Have you ever noticed a fearful dog? How does a fearful dog react? Let us know in the comments.


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  3. Hakanen, E., Mikkola, S., Salonen, M., Puurunen, J., Sulkama, S., Araujo, C., & Lohi, H. (2020). Active and social life is associated with lower non-social fearfulness in pet dogs. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-13.
  4. Stellato, A. C., Dewey, C. E., Widowski, T. M., & Niel, L. (2020). Evaluation of associations between owner presence and indicators of fear in dogs during routine veterinary examinations. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 257(10), 1031-1040.
  5. Riemer, S. (2020). Effectiveness of treatments for firework fears in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 37, 61-70.


  • Jack Gray

    Jack Gray is a dog lover who not only keeps dogs but also takes care of their physical and psychological needs. He has serious concerns about the emotional distress of dogs. Therefore, he is giving awareness to dog lovers through his writings.

    Gray Jack

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