Dog Suddenly Scared of Something in House – What to Do

By Kyoko •  Updated: 12/03/21 •  11 min read
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Has your dog suddenly been acting scared of something in the house? If so, you’re not alone. This is a common problem that can strikeout of the blue. And you may not even be able to find the cause! However, we’re sure that your dog doesn’t see ghosts or anything like that. There’s usually a reason he’s acting like this!

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You may have noticed that your dog has suddenly become very clingy and fearful of you or something. There are many different reasons for a dog to develop this type of issue. It could be an anxiety issue, stress, or other problems.

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In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons a dog may all of a sudden be scared in the house. We’ll also share some ways you can help your dog overcome his fears.

Why is My Dog Acting Scared All of a Sudden?

Have you noticed that your dog seems to be afraid of a specific room or part of the house? Is he afraid all day, or do his symptoms start at a certain time of day? Whatever the cause, your dog could have developed a phobia of some kind.

Some of the symptoms of canine phobia include:

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Other symptoms of fear/anxiety/stress can include your dog suddenly finding a hiding place. He may not want to come out, even for a treat. If your dog only acts this way in certain parts of the house, then there’s something there causing this reaction.

Some symptoms of fear and anxiety can be more subtle. For instance, your fur baby may walk in circles continuously, drool excessively, or start to shake and bark. Some dogs that are very afraid may even have potty accidents in the house, even though they’re completely potty trained.

A phobia (fear) can be something as simple as a thunderstorm and lightning. Fireworks and other loud noises can also cause this issue in dogs. From the first time they are scared by the loud sound, your dog will remember this and react every time. The stimulus that causes this reaction in your dog is called a trigger. Just like people can develop triggers tied to stressful, fearful, and harmful events, the same is true of dogs.

The main thing we want to get across is that dogs may show their stress and anxiety in different ways. Each dog is unique, and it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s habits. If you know how your dog normally acts, it’s easier to spot when he’s not acting like himself. However, it’s usually pretty easy to tell your dog is upset in some way, especially if he’s suddenly fearful of something in the house.

The Most Common Reasons a Dog Suddenly is Afraid in the House

In our research, we found that it only takes one bad experience for a dog to suddenly become fearful. It’s like the opposite of positive reinforcement training. You could say the dog’s bad experience was more like negative reinforcement. What’s more, the dog continues to remember this experience.

Here are some of the most common reasons dogs may suddenly become fearful.

1). Uncomfortable Situations

Dogs love to be comfortable (who doesn’t, for that matter!). A dog will do just about anything to get comfortable, like stealing your blanket at night! So, if a dog experiences an uncomfortable situation, this could be enough to make him suddenly fearful.

Here’s an example of what we mean. Many dogs hate being bathed. They’ll do anything to avoid it! No matter how comfortable you make the situation and experience, your dog simply hates it. Maybe there was one slip in the tub. That’s all it may take to make your dog afraid of having a bath. He may even avoid entering the bathroom.

Some of these issues can be overcome with positive reinforcement training. In some cases, it may even be necessary to hire a professional dog trainer to help your dog overcome his fear.

2). Isolation

Dogs are social animals; in the wild, they run in packs. So, when a dog is kept in a separate room or closed up in a kennel, they may develop anxious, stressful feelings.

If the dog hates the kennel or room enough, he may try to avoid the space altogether. This is completely natural. After all, they want to be free and with the rest of the family!

3). Aging & Senior Dogs

As dogs age, their senses become dull. They may not be able to see, hear, or smell things as they did when younger. This is very difficult for dogs, as they are very dependent on their senses to experience and learn about the world around them.

Older dogs may also sleep harder; you may find it more difficult to rouse your dog out of sleep. When he first wakes up, your fur baby may seem confused and disoriented. These feelings can even lead to fear.

This is often why senior dogs bark so much or hide. They’re simply confused about where they are. At first, these feelings may be short-lived; however, it is possible for an older dog to develop a form of doggie dementia that may get worse over time.

4). Sudden, Loud Noises

This leads us directly into the next cause of sudden fear—loud, sudden noises. Whether a dog is older and hard of hearing, or his younger, he may be scared by loud, sudden noises in the house. The worst offenders are thunderstorms and fireworks; however, it can be almost any loud sound.

Dogs have very sensitive hearing; so, it’s no wonder that a loud sound could jolt them into fear! And remember, dogs can even hear sounds that we’re not able to hear. What’s more, loud burglar and smoke alarms can also scare a dog. Other sounds may include a loud dishwasher, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, or even the roar of a power tool.

5). Pests

Do you have pests in your home? These can include rodents, bugs, snakes, and more! If your dog has seen them but is unfamiliar with these critters, they could have scared him. It’s possible your fur baby maybe come across a pest one day. Maybe the pest, a mouse, came at your dog rather than running away! The mouse could have even bitten your dog! No wonder he’s scared!

Pests like this can make a sudden appearance when a dog (or you) least expect them to pop out. And this could be enough to cause your dog to develop a phobia.

6). Pain & Illness

Another common problem is that fear could be caused by underlying pain or illness. Your dog could have developed a condition that’s causing these issues. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when a dog has something wrong. They’re very good at hiding their health problems.

But one sign your dog may not feel well is that he’s avoiding you. He may find a hiding spot and not want to come out. If he does come out of his hiding place, then your fur baby may be grumpy and unhappy.

So, if your dog is showing these types of symptoms, then it’s a good idea to call the vet. They can examine your dog to check for underlying health issues that could be causing your dog’s fear.

7). Accidental Injuries

While we’re on the topic of health issues, we can’t forget to mention accidental injuries. Has there been a recent accident with your dog? Have you accidentally stepped on him or tripped over him?

Sometimes dogs are not in the best places. For instance, if your dog likes to sleep in the middle of the kitchen while you’re cooking! If you trip on him, this could be causing his fear!

Anything that causes an accidental injury would be enough to make a dog scared.

8). Bad Experiences

Another common issue that can make your dog suddenly fearful is a bad experience. This could be just about anything! Maybe your dog accidentally chased a ball into an end table. If the table had a lamp on it, the lamp could have fallen over and scared your dog! He may have experienced pain, too!

From then on, your dog may be afraid of that table or even his ball. He may do everything to avoid coming into contact with both things.

9). Sudden Fear of You

It’s also possible your canine companion could have become afraid of you. While this isn’t a pleasant thought, it’s entirely possible. Remember the incident when you tripped over your furry companion in the kitchen? That could have made him afraid or at least warier of your presence.

The good news is that this is usually an easy issue to overcome. You just need to show your fur baby that this was an accident and that you love him very much.

10). Traumatic History

If you’ve adopted a dog from a rescue or shelter, it’s possible he may have experienced some type of trauma in his past. Dogs raised in puppy mills, for instance, usually are fearful and anxious.

Dogs that have this type of issue require plenty of gentlenesses, patience, and encouragement. Sprinkle in some positive reinforcement, and you may help your dog to come out of his shell.

11). Poor Training

Finally, poor training can also cause dogs to become fearful all of a sudden. This may happen if you become short-tempered during training sessions. Remember, dogs want to please. And some dogs have very sensitive feelings—they don’t want to let you down.

What’s more, if you physically punish your dog, this will engender fear in him. Anytime a person hits and/or yells at a dog, they’re going to become afraid.

How to Help Your Dog Overcome His Fear

In most cases, positive reinforcement training is an excellent way to help your dog overcome his phobias. It may take time and patience, as well as love and high-value treats! But it can be done!

For dogs who seem to be afraid of the dark for some reason (maybe they had an encounter with a pest), it can help to leave nightlights on. You can use the kind that have either motion sensors or light sensors. Nightlights like these will come on when they sense motion or when it gets dark outside. This is also a great help for dogs who may be getting older and not seeing quite as well as they used to.

If your dog has become scared of you, then you can turn this around! It could be due to tripping over him in the kitchen! In that case, just give your dog some extra love and reassurance. You might also try to train him to stay out of the middle of the kitchen floor. Be kind and give him treats; this, combined with hugs and love, may be enough to help your dog not fear you any longer.

For dogs that have come from a rescue, it’s possible they’ve experienced some trauma in their past. This trauma still acts like a trigger, even though your dog may be perfectly happy with you. All it takes is a certain movement of your hand, tone of voice, or more to bring those traumatic memories back.

The good news is that even dogs with traumatic pasts can be taught to come out of their fear. It takes a lot of time and patience, as well as positive reinforcement training. If you’re having a difficult time helping your dog, you may want to ask the vet if they can recommend a professional trainer. They may know of a trainer who has worked with this type of issue successfully in the past.

Summing It Up

There are many reasons a dog may all of a sudden become scared in the house. If you’re not able to figure out what’s behind his fear, then it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the vet.

Your dog may have an underlying health issue that’s causing his fear. It could be with that with the right treatment; your dog will feel better and not be fearful any longer!

In the end, dogs that are scared need extra love and attention. They can be taught to overcome their fear with positive reinforcement, plenty of love, and patience!

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Kyoko

Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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