Dogs with Social Anxiety

Scared Dog

For both dogs and their owners, social anxiety is a distressing condition. In circumstances involving other dogs or people, some dogs get uneasy or fearful. It might happen when you take your dog to the park, a busy event, or the clinic. Anxiety manifests itself as shyness or trembling, as well as violence. Early in a dog's life, this disease is simpler to control, but there are tactics you may employ to assist an older dog cope with social pressures.

What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is a disorder in which dogs are afraid of people or other animals and have a high stress reaction to sights and noises, especially in new situations. Anxiety in a social context can range from minor to severe, depending on the dog. It can drive a dog to act in ways that it would not ordinarily do in a familiar area.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety in Dogs

Pets with social anxiety may be calm and cheerful with their family members, but they get uncomfortable around strangers or unknown dogs, and they are likely to worry when they leave the house. This disorder's symptoms can range from slightly bothersome to severe and even hazardous.


  • Timid behavior (cowering, trembling, tail tucking, or whining)
  • Panting or drooling
  • Uncontrollably urinating or defecating
  • Aggressive behavior (barking, growling, or biting)

Dogs with social anxiety will typically hide behind their humans, trembling or whining in dread. These unfortunate puppies may grow so agitated that they urinate or defecate on their own, pant excessively, or drool. While some dogs become very shy in response to fear, others may feel imprisoned and cornered, which can lead to aggressiveness and be hazardous to people or other dogs around.

Causes of Social Anxiety

All dogs require appropriate socializing. Failure to socialize a dog early in life can lead to social anxiety, fear, and hostility later in life. Although some dogs are more susceptible to social anxiety than others, it may affect practically any dog under the right conditions.

  • Puppies who are not regularly introduced to new people, dogs, places, and experiences can be overwhelmed when they are taken out of familiar surroundings or required to socialize. Proper socialization at a young age can help them learn to adapt to new situations throughout their lives.
  • Adult dogs can also experience social anxiety. It is most common in dogs rescued from puppy mills or abusive and neglectful situations. They may have had little or no human contact or only negative experiences with humans.
  • Stray dogs may be anxious because they have a general distrust of people and busy places. This may be something they learned that was necessary for survival on the street.
  • Dogs who grow up in rural areas or who are sheltered in their homes and rarely leave may become very fearful when taken out of their home territory.

Diagnosing Social Anxiety in Dogs

In dogs, social anxiety is obvious, but a veterinary behaviorist may assist determine the reason of an individual's unease around new people, canines, and environments. They've been taught to see probable medical difficulties, learned habits, and conflict aggressiveness, and they may offer advice on how to deal with these.


If your dog is often anxious, there are steps you can take to help it overcome fear.

  • Begin by introducing your dog to one person, ideally in your home or yard. Allow your dog to initiate contact and ensure it has a safe retreat where it can go if it begins to feel overwhelmed.¬†Don't force contact, and reward calm behavior and efforts to "meet" the new person (approaching, sniffing).
  • When , remain calm and speak quietly so that your dog senses your comfort with the situation. Choose a gentle, relaxed dog that will not seem threatening to your dog. Stay at a comfortable distance, and limit the encounter to a short time. Again, reward¬†your dog for calm behavior. At the first subtle sign of fear or anxiety, increase the distance between the two dogs or remove your dog entirely if necessary.
  • Take your dog to quiet outdoor areas and avoid crowds so that it develops comfort with the idea of outings before attempting to visit dog parks or walk along busy streets.

Prognosis for Dogs with Social Anxiety

It's difficult to desensitize a nervous dog. This is a time-consuming procedure that might take weeks or months, but it's definitely worth it. Not only will assisting your dog in overcoming his phobias make him happy, but it will also make it simpler for you to enjoy adventures with your canine buddy. Increase the social challenges at your dog's pace, being aware of how much stimulation your dog can handle at any given time.

How to Prevent Social Anxiety

When socialization begins early, it is most effective. As soon as possible, start socializing your puppy. This simply teaches your dog how to manage itself in a crowded environment. A well-socialized dog is not afraid of crowds and gets along with other canines.

Begin by taking your pet to several locations. This should be done when the dog has been properly inoculated against parvo and distemper. You may train a young dog to accept new life experiences by introducing it to varied sights, noises, and people.


"What is a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist? American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)." ;