Why do certain dogs have high levels of anxiety

The subject of scared dogs: Expert Bettina Specht explains

Every dog ​​has an individual character - and that's a good thing! As with humans, there are more or less fearful individuals in dogs. Four-legged friends who show excessive fear behavior have often had a bad experience in the past. Unfortunately, this is often the case, especially with dogs from animal shelters. But how do you know if your dog is a scared dog? What are the signs and what to do if the dog panics? We spoke to the scared dog expert Bettina Specht and collected useful information!

In this article we answer the following questions:

Why does a dog become a scared dog? What triggers are there for this?

Fear is a gift of evolution because being afraid is a primal instinct. Fear helps to recognize dangers and to avoid them. It thus has a useful protective function. Fear only becomes a problem when it has a decisive impact on the quality of life of both dogs and humans.

If this stage is reached, one speaks of anxiety disorders. As with humans, the triggers for this are infinitely diverse. Fear of height, popping noises, fire or tightness occur in dogs just as much as in humans. They are among the so-called primal fears and are genetically anchored. Then there are fears caused by bad experiences. A bee sting can trigger fear of bees - abuse can trigger fear of people. "So there is no such thing as a “scared dog”. In dogs, it usually takes detective skills to even find the trigger for fear.

Fear helps to recognize dangers and to avoid them.

Are there any recognizable signs of fear in the dog?

Scared dogs often show the following symptoms:

  • Tremors, drooling and panting
  • Wide-open eyes and large pupils
  • The tail is drawn in, possibly pinched under the belly
  • Ears and corners of the mouth point backwards
  • Stiff posture with a center of gravity to the rear
  • Dogs show more so-called calming signals - the dogs' reassurance signals
  • and much more.

The following behavioral reactions are associated with the emotion 'fear':

  • Freeze
  • To escape
  • Fight
  • Fool around

They are also known as the 4 "F" of fear. Freezing, flight, and submission are instantly associated with a scared dog. If, on the other hand, he attacks out of fear for his life, exaggerated aggressive behavior or the often diagnosed dominance behavior is very often assumed and devastating training measures are taken to prevent the attack. The fear is not being worked on. Fooling around as behavior in fear is hardly recognized. We find this behavior very often in people who are afraid. The uncertainty is covered up with funny sayings.

What should I do if the dog panics?

Panic disorders are sudden and recurring severe anxiety attacks that are not limited to specific triggers, making them unpredictable. A panic attack starts suddenly and lasts an average of 30 minutes. During this time the dog is not responsive. You can only be "there" and see that the dog does not hurt itself or others. Touching a dog during a panic attack can bite its owner.

Again, the comparison to humans. A drowning person lashes out and attacks the lifeguard. Securing the dog with a leash and harness has top priority here. If a dog breaks loose in this situation, a GPS tracker can life saving be.

A dog panic attack starts suddenly and lasts an average of 30 minutes.

What solutions are there for acute anxiety?

You can only gain access to fear if you understand what actually happens in your head and body when you are afraid. Only when you understand fear can you develop training ideas and these are just as individual as the dog's fear. There is no patent recipe or the ultimate method that solves the problem at the push of a button. Scared dog therapy requires time, creativity, patience and empathy.

When dealing with other dogs and people, we recommend that you put a yellow scarf on your darling.

What should I do if my scared dog runs away?

Did you know that? Fear is one of the most common reasons dogs run away.

Regardless of whether your darling is a scared dog, for pet owners, the dog's runaway is always a nightmare. You can do that in an emergency:

  • Inform the vets in the area, the police, the nearest animal shelter and, depending on the area, the hunters
  • Notify the central pet registers in which the dog is registered, e.g. Tasso
  • Park your car with the door or flap open in the place of disappearance
  • Leave your house or garden door open so the dog can get in when it makes it home

Posting on Facebook can also be helpful. You can reach a large number of people in a very short time. But here it is important that people are made aware that they should neither speak to the scared dog nor try to catch him. Only the owner should be informed about the sighting so that a person of trust can contact the dog. Even a “well-intentioned” hunt can lead to a disaster.

What preventive measures are there against running away?

Despite all precautionary measures, a scared dog can escape. Leash, safety harness, retrieval training, desensitization of the fear object and also confidence-building measures do not give a 100% guarantee. A GPS tracker is a must for every scared dog. It can be found immediately within a few hours.

Does a GPS tracker make sense?

Yes absolutely. With the help of the GPS tracker, your dog can be located and recaptured as quickly as possible. The faster the dog's trusted person finds the dog, the greater the chance of being able to catch the dog without any problems. Lengthy and nerve-wracking searches can thus be avoided. No scared dog should be out and about without Tractive.

Which books about scared dogs can be recommended?

  • Scared dogs, Bettina Specht, animal learn publishing house
  • Stress in Dogs, Clarissa v. Reinhardt and Martina Nagel, animal learn publishing house
  • Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, animal learn publishing house
  • Change of perspective, Maria Hense and Christina Sondermann, Cadmos Verlag

You can find more information about scared dogs here: