Understanding the behavioural issue of a scared dog allows us to better address the behavioural issues. A fearful dog, anxious dog and skittish dog should never be considered the same behavioural category. A fearful dog will make his existence as unnoticeable as possible. An anxious dog displays anxiety, such as pacing or howling as commonly seen in separation anxiety. Skittishness belongs to the category of insecure dogs and these dogs are cautious of the environment, sounds and triggers.

These three categories can be illustrated in human lives. For example, a fearful person is like a criminal, afraid of being caught and hence commonly hide and only go about finding food when no one is looking to avoid detection. An anxious person is like a student waiting for his test results, which he can pace about, walking around to think about how he fared. An insecure person is one that lacks confidence. An introvert for example, cautious of every situation but enjoys going out. A person may or may not have a combination of two or more behavioural categories, varying greatly between individuals in both humans and dogs.

A brief description that differentiates the categories are as follows:

1.   Fearfulness (click here to view the detailed article):

  • Will not eat in the presence of humans

  • Commonly hide in a corner

  • Tail consistently tugged between the hindlimbs

  • Frequently tremble

  • The overall aim is to minimise his presence and try escaping

  • Will never roll to expose the belly or sleep sideways

  • Never destructive

2.   Anxiety (click here to view the detailed article on separation anxiety and the signs):

  • Panting and salivating

  • Pacing

  • Tail not tugged between the hindlimbs

  • Bark and/or howl

  • Commonly destructive

  • Shows no signs of minimising his presence

3.   Insecurity:

  • Hesitant to eat in the presence of humans

  • Hesitant yet curious of people

  • Skittishness – overly alert or jumpy upon noise or triggers

  • Tail not between hindlimbs

  • Walk well on a leash

  • Rarely tremble

  • May display confidence and even domination in certain aspects of life

  • Expose belly or sleep sideways when comfortable (e.g at home)

Hence, the understanding of “scared” dogs is commonly being misunderstood which leads to the incorrect approach of rehabilitation. Determine which category your dog falls under today!