Not only are dogs intelligent and loving, but they’re usually also playful and fun to be around.
However, sometimes dogs can become fearful and timid, even around their owners.
So how can you tell if your dog might be scared of you?
How to Know if Your Dog Is Scared of You
If your dog is scared of you, it will display non-verbal communication signals that express fear.
These will be behavioral changes such as avoiding you.
Also, body language cues such as cowering and expressing submission.
Let’s look at these in more detail and learn more about how your dog may communicate if they are scared of you.
Related Post: What Do Dogs Think of Their Owners?
6 Behaviors that May Indicate Your Dog is Afraid of You:
- They tuck in their tail when you are near.
- They yawn or lick their lips when you are around.
- They cower when you enter a room.
- They exhibit excessive shaking or whimpering.
- They bark or growl at you.
- They hide from you.
The rest of the article goes a little more in-depth on these behaviors and gives some tips on what to do to help your dog feel more comfortable around you. Let’s get started.
Related Post: What Do Dogs Think About When They Are Alone?
1. They Tuck in Their Tail When You Are Near
One of the most easily identifiable behaviors of frightened dogs is tail-tucking.
Tail-tucking is the opposite of tail-wagging and usually indicates that your dog is unhappy or afraid.
If you notice that your dog often tucks their tail in between your legs when they see you, it might be frightened of you.
NOTE – Check out this post if you would like to learn why dogs hide under the bed and in dark places.
2. They Yawn or Lick Their Lips When You Are Around
Dogs often yawn when they are stressed.
So if your dog does not appear tired, yawning may be a way of dealing with their fear.
The same applies to lip-licking.
If your dog licks their lips for no apparent reason (such as you offering them a treat), this may signal submission and anxiety.
NOTE – Take a look at this post if you are interested in why dogs yawn when you pet them.
3. They Cower When You Enter a Room
Cowering is a dog’s natural response to a perceived threat.
Your dog feels that they increase their safety by making their body appear smaller.
If you walk into a room and your dog lowers their head and tail in an attempt to “shrink,” this is a good sign that they are scared of you.
NOTE – You might be interested to read this post looking at why dogs put their ears back.
4. They Exhibit Excessive Shaking or Whimpering
Shaking when afraid is something dogs, and humans share. If your dog always seems to be shaking, even when lying down- there is a good chance they are feeling frightened.
Whimpering or yelping can also be signs of fear and discomfort.
So if your dog shakes, quivers, or whimpers when you are around, this is another strong sign that they are likely afraid of you.
NOTE – You might want to take a look at this post answering the question: why does my dog not get excited to see me?
5. They Bark or Growl at You
Most people have heard of the two fear responses in humans – fight or flight. It turns out that dogs share these same fear responses with humans.
Barking or growling is the animal equivalent of the “fight” response.
So if your dog barks or growls at you when you approach, they are probably feeling threatened by you.
Barking is not always a sign of aggression, but it can be a warning – if you continue to approach or touch your dog when they are barking, they may become more aggressive.
NOTE – You might like to read this post asking the question: Why are some dogs afraid of cats?
6. They Hide From You
If your dog is often out of sight, under a table, or in a quiet corner, they might be scared of you.
Dogs hide for the same reasons humans hide– to lower the chances of an encounter they see as dangerous.
If your dog is hiding from you, they likely perceive you as a threat to their safety.
Note – This video has some great examples of dogs expressing fear around people:
How To Help Your Dog Feel More Comfortable Around You
If you feel that your dog may be scared of you, having read the list above, how can you deal with this?
Remember that your dog is frightened of you may not be your fault.
Some dogs are naturally anxious, especially smaller breeds.
Also, rescue dogs may have had negative experiences with people in the past that make them afraid.
But regardless of why your dog is frightened, you always have the chance to make things better.
Here are two basic principles that can help lower your dog’s anxiety and get them not to be afraid of you.
1. Give Them Love But Don’t Be Pushy About It
To increase the trust between your dog and you, you need to spend time building up a stronger bond with them.
They need to learn that you are safe and not a threat.
So, lots of petting, cuddling, and play will be needed.
However, it would be best if you didn’t push the dog too fast with this.
As hard as it may seem, going slowly and letting your dog refuse your pats and hugs will go a long way to helping them trust you.
The more you force them to do things they don’t like, the more they will avoid you.
Make sure your dog knows they are welcome to join you whenever you relax.
You can show this by either talking to them in a soft, encouraging voice or leaving one hand extended slightly towards them while you sit.
If your dog is terrified of you, you may want to avert your eyes when you are near them.
Dogs can perceive eye contact as threatening, so looking away from your dog as they get close to you can help them feel safe.
Related Post: Do Dogs Know Their Gender?
2. Reward Them When They Are Well Behaved
A simple way to get on your dog’s good side is to feed they lots of treats.
Always keep treats with you and give them to your dog when you approach them or see them coming toward you.
This will help build positive associations in your dog’s mind and make them enthusiastic to see you.
If your dog is too afraid to eat out of your hand, do not force them.
Set the treat down where the dog can see you do it and walk a few steps back.
If your dog accepts the treat, you can continue this method of giving treats and eventually work up to having them eat out of your hand – a clear sign of canine trust!
Final Thoughts On How to Tell if Your Dog Is Scared of You
If your dog is afraid of you, they will express this through their body language and behavioral patterns.
These cues are relatively easy to spot once you look out for them.
If you decide that your dog is scared of you, you can use slow and careful training to help them get over this.
Dogs, like humans, are cautious about who they trust.
However, when your dog does come to see you as a friend, their loyalty to you will be strong.
So do not worry – it is all worth it in the end!
Ok, that’s the end of this post about how to know if your dog is scared of you.
Thanks for stopping by to visit The Factual Doggo!
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!