Why is My Dog Scared of Other Dogs?

by | Sep 12, 2023 | General Information, Home, Training

We all know that every pup has their quirks.

Some dogs might be a bit nervous around their fellow four-legged buddies, and there are many reasons why that can happen.

But fear not! There are some super cool ways to help our furry friends feel more confident and less scared.

Dive in with us as we explore why some dogs get the jitters around other canines and how we can give them a helping paw!


Key Takeaways

  1. Your dog’s fear of unknown dogs might stem from past experiences, a lack of social skills, or personality traits.
  2. Forcing your pup into socialization will only worsen their fears.
  3. Patience and understanding are key to reversing this phobia.


4 Reasons Why Your Pup is Afraid of Other Dogs

Reasons why your pup is afraid of other dogs

Past Traumatic Experience

Dogs, just like people, have memories.

Some memories are filled with chasing balls and getting belly rubs, while others, unfortunately, aren’t as pleasant.

If a dog had a rough encounter with another dog in the past, like a fight or a scary chase, it sticks with them. This means the next time they see another dog, they might feel anxious or scared, thinking, “Uh-oh, I hope that doesn’t happen again!”

Fortunately, with a sprinkle of love, a dash of patience, and some special training, you can help your dog overcome these fears and have more tail-wagging moments with other dogs.


Comforting Your Dog in Stressful Situations

When a pup is stressed or scared, our first instinct is to swoop in, give them cuddles, and tell them it’s alright.

However, this approach is doomed to backfire.

When we comfort our dogs during these tense moments, we might accidentally be saying, “Good job for being scared!” We’re encouraging them to think fear is the appropriate reaction. Over time, they might become even more afraid of other dogs because they believe their fear gets them love and attention.

Instead, please stay calm and let your dog know there’s no cause for danger. By leading with confidence, you will help your furry friend realize there’s nothing to worry about.


Lack of Social Skills

Just like some of us might feel nervous at a big party because we’re not used to social situations, dogs can feel the same way around other dogs.

If a puppy doesn’t get to hang out with other pups during their early months, they might not learn the “dog language” or the play rules. So, when they meet other dogs later on, they might feel out of place or scared because they’re unsure of what to do.

Socializing our puppies early on helps them learn the ropes and build confidence in their furry friendships!


It’s a Personality Trait

Every dog, just like every human, has a unique personality.

Some dogs are naturally outgoing and playful, while others are more reserved or even timid.

Every dog’s personality is shaped by a mix of genetics and early life experiences. If a dog is naturally on the shy side, they might feel overwhelmed or scared when they meet other, more boisterous dogs.

It’s not that they’re being snobby or stuck up; they need more time and patience to warm up and feel comfortable.


7 Signs Your Pup is Scared of Other Dogs

Signs your pup is scared of other dogs

If a dog is afraid of other dogs, they’ll give away clear hints through their actions and body language. Here’s what to look out for:

  1. Tucking the Tail: A tail tucked between the legs is a classic sign of fear or anxiety.
  2. Avoiding Eye Contact: If your dog looks everywhere but at the other dog, they might feel nervous.
  3. Pulling Away or Hiding: Some dogs will hide behind their parents or even pull away on the leash to avoid interaction.
  4. Growling or Snarling: These warning signs say, “I’m scared and uncomfortable, so stay back!”
  5. Whining or Yelping: Just like a baby might cry when upset, a dog might whine or yelp.
  6. Flattened Ears: If a dog’s ears are pinned back flat against their head, it may indicate they’re not feeling too friendly.
  7. Shaking or Trembling: This can be due to nerves or fear.


6 Things to Avoid When Dealing With a Fearful Dog

Things to avoid when dealing with a fearful dog

There are a few things you must avoid if you want to help your furry friend feel more at ease in the company of other dogs:

  1. Forcing Interactions: Pushing your dog to play or interact with other dogs when scared will only worsen their fear.
  2. Punishing Fear: Scolding your dog isn’t the answer when acting out of fear. They’re already stressed, and punishment will only make things worse.
  3. Comforting Too Much: While it’s natural to want to cuddle and soothe a scared dog, doing it too much will only reinforce the behavior.
  4. Avoiding Dogs Completely: If you avoid other dogs entirely, your pup won’t get a chance to learn and grow. It’s about balance — finding safe, controlled situations where they can slowly get used to other canines.
  5. Using Tight Leashes: Holding the leash tight can make a dog more anxious. It’s like they can feel your worry through the leash!
  6. Ignoring Their Signals: Your dog uses body language to tell you how they feel. If you ignore their signs of fear, you may accidentally put them in a situation they’re not ready for.


Overcoming Your Dog’s Fear of Other Dogs

How to overcome your dog's fear of other dogs

Identifying Your Dog’s Threshold

When you’ve got a pup scared of other dogs, one of the best tools in your toolbox is figuring out your dog’s “distance threshold.” Every dog has a different personal bubble of comfort. For some, it might be just a few feet, while for others, it might be the length of a whole football field!

Finding this magical distance helps you understand when your dog starts to feel stressed. The goal is to keep them in their happy zone, where they feel safe and relaxed. Over time, as they gain confidence, this distance will get shorter, allowing them to be closer to other dogs without feeling scared.

It’s all about observation. Watch closely when you’re at a dog park, and your pup spots another dog. You’ve probably stepped into their uncomfortable zone if they start looking nervous. Move back until they relax, and there you have it — that’s their distance threshold!



Desensitization means gradually exposing your dog to their source of fear in tiny, non-scary doses.

For our furry pals, this means introducing them to other dogs from a distance where they feel safe. Over time, as they realize there’s nothing to be afraid of, they’ll become more comfortable. The key is going at their pace and ensuring every encounter is positive.

By using desensitization, you’re helping your dog rewrite the narrative story from “Other dogs are scary!” to “Maybe other dogs aren’t so bad after all!” With patience, love, and consistency, you’ll watch your pet’s fear melt away, and they’ll start making some tail-wagging pals in no time!



Let’s say your dog sees another pup and immediately thinks, “Uh-oh, scary!” 

Counterconditioning is akin to giving your dog a new pair of glasses to see the situation in a positive light.

Give your furry friend a treat or a favorite toy whenever another dog comes into view. The goal is for them to connect the sight of other dogs with positive vibes.

Over time, they’ll associate other dogs with yummy treats or playtime instead of getting anxious or fearful around them. It’s all about replacing those negative feelings with positive ones, turning those doggy frowns upside down!

Every dog’s behavior is unique, and some might take a little longer to change their tune. But with love and dedication, your pup will be on their way to having way more exciting dog interactions!


Using CBD to Minimize Anxiety

Research has found that CBD can help chill out anxious or scared pups. Think of it like a calming blanket for the brain. If a puppy gets nervous around other dogs, CBD might help them feel more relaxed and less on edge.

Be sure to chat with a vet before giving any CBD to a dog. Not all CBD products are the same, and we want to ensure we measure the right amount for our furry friends.


Advanced Socialization Classes

Advanced Pack Socialization Classes take our pups back to school. But instead of learning about math or history, dogs learn about… well, being dogs! And, most importantly, how to be comfortable and friendly with other dogs.

Some dogs might be a tad shy or even scared around unknown dogs. Maybe they didn’t hang out with many dogs when they were puppies or went through a negative experience.

This is where K9 Basics’ Advanced Pack Socialization Classes come into play. These classes are designed to teach dogs to be more confident and chill around their fellow four-legged pals.

With the guidance of a professional dog trainer, these classes slowly introduce dogs to different situations and strange dogs in a safe, controlled environment. The goal is to help our furry friends understand that other dogs aren’t so scary after all. It’s like a fun playdate where dogs can learn and grow while making new friends. And the best part? It can be a game-changer for many dogs, turning their fears into tail-wagging confidence!

Dogs playing

Call us at (866) 592-2742 or, if you’re from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New York, visit us at 131 Kenilworth Road, Marlton, New Jersey 08053, to learn more about our Advanced Pack Socialization Classes. Also, browse our blog and social media for various topics about dogs and their lives with us!



  1. “Is CBD for Dogs a Good Idea?” Volhard Dog Nutrition, www.volharddognutrition.com/blog/is-cbd-for-dogs-a-good-idea/. Accessed 25 Aug. 2023.