Why Is My Puppy Scared of Other Dogs? Help your dog overcome their fear

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As a puppy owner, you may be puzzled and concerned when you notice your furry friend displaying signs of fear around other dogs.

This can be particularly frustrating if you are unsure why your puppy is reacting this way. However, it is crucial to recognize that fear in puppies is a natural response.

Just like babies, puppies are born with an instinctive fear response to keep themselves safe from danger.

As they grow and experience different things in their environment, this fear response can become heightened or even triggered by specific experiences.

One common question among puppy owners is, “Why is my puppy scared of other dogs?”

This is a prevalent issue, and there are numerous reasons why your puppy may be displaying fear when encountering other dogs.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes of this fear, discuss ways to help your puppy overcome their anxiety, and provide you with helpful tips and techniques to ensure your puppy’s happiness and well-being.

Understanding Puppy Fear

Before we delve into the reasons why your puppy may be scared of other dogs, it is important to understand fear in puppies.

scared grey puppy on some grass with purple sash around the neck

Fear is a natural response that allows your dog t

o perceive and respond to potential threats. 

This instinctive reaction is part of their survival mechanism and is present in all animals, including humans.

However, when fear becomes excessive or irrational, it can interfere with your puppy’s ability to lead a happy and healthy life. This is a type of dog anxiety, and it can take many forms.

Understanding the causes of fear in puppies is essential for helping them overcome their fears and anxieties.

Factors that Trigger Fear in Puppies

Fear can be triggered by various factors in puppies, including genetics, environment, and experiences.

While some puppies may have a genetic predisposition towards anxious behavior, environmental factors such as lack of socialization or traumatic experiences with other dogs can also contribute to their fears.

For example, suppose your puppy was not exposed to other dogs during the critical socialization period (between 3-14 weeks of age). In that case, they may develop fear or aggression towards unfamiliar dogs later in life.

Similarly, dogs that have been attacked by another dog can cause lasting emotional scars that affect your puppy’s behavior around other dogs.

Every puppy is unique and may respond differently to different factors that trigger fear.

As an owner, it is your responsibility to observe your puppy’s behavior closely and determine what might be causing their fear so you can take appropriate steps to help them overcome it.

Common Reasons Why Your Puppy is Afraid of Other Dogs

It can be frustrating and concerning to see your puppy cower in fear or act aggressively around other dogs.

However, understanding the reasons behind your puppy’s fear is essential to addressing the issue effectively.

Here are some common reasons why your puppy is scared of other dogs:

Lack of Socialization

Socialization with other dogs is a critical aspect of a puppy’s development. 

Puppies that are not exposed to positive experiences with other dogs at an early age may develop a fear response towards unfamiliar dogs later in life. 

If your pup has not had the opportunity to interact with other dogs, they may feel overwhelmed and nervous when around them.

A lack of socialization can also make your puppy more prone to anxiety and stress, which can further exacerbate their fear response towards other dogs.

It is essential to introduce your pup to different environments, people, and animals as early as possible so that they can learn how to behave appropriately.

Traumatic Experience with Another Dog

If your puppy has had a traumatic experience with another dog (e.g., being attacked or bitten), this experience can leave lasting emotional scars on them. 

Aggressive dog showing their teeth snarling - Why is my puppy scared of other dogs

Your pup may now view all unfamiliar dogs as threats and react defensively toward them. To help your pup overcome this trauma, you need patience and persistence when reintroducing them to other dogs gradually. 

It’s crucial that you create a positive association between meeting new furry friends and good things such as treats or playtime. 

Genetic Disposition

Some puppies have a genetic predisposition towards anxious behavior. Certain breeds tend to be more prone than others, like Chihuahuas or Shih Tzus – breeds that were bred to be companion dogs. 

However, genetics don’t necessarily dictate a puppy’s behavior entirely. 

With proper training and socialization, you can help your pup learn how to feel comfortable and safe around other dogs.

The Puppy’s Background

Another factor that could cause anxiety is the way the dog was bred and raised before being adopted by its new family.

Puppies from pet stores or breeders who keep them isolated could have problems adjusting to life around others. 

Take some time to observe your puppy and determine what may have caused the anxiety towards other dogs so that you can develop a plan that will work best for them moving forward!

Signs That Your Little Dog is Afraid of Other Dogs

Puppies can display a wide range of behaviors when they’re scared of other dogs.

Some may hide behind their owners or try to run away, while others may bark or growl in fear.

It’s important to be able to identify these signs so that you can help your puppy feel safe and secure.

Some common signs that your puppy is scared of other dogs include:

  • Excessive panting: If you notice that your puppy is panting heavily, even when they’re not exerting themselves, this could be a sign that they’re feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Trembling or shaking: Puppies may tremble or shake when they are scared, indicating their fear or anxiety.
  • Whining or whimpering: If your puppy is whining or whimpering around other dogs, it could be a sign that they are uncomfortable or scared.
  • Cowering or hiding behind you: A puppy that hides behind its owner or tries to escape from other dogs may be feeling afraid.
  • Aggressive behavior: Some puppies may exhibit hostile behavior when they’re scared of other dogs. If your dog gets aggressive and starts growling or snapping at other dogs, this could be a sign that they are feeling threatened and are trying to protect themselves.

In such cases, it’s best not to force them into situations where there are lots of dogs around until you have taken steps toward building their confidence around other dogs first.

With patience and the right approach, most puppies can learn not to react with aggression when afraid around other pups over time until they become comfortable around new puppies automatically without any need for coaxing from owners.

How to Help Your Puppy Overcome Their Fear of Other Dogs

When you take your dog for a walk, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter strange dogs that your pup may be afraid of. Luckily, there are a number of practical things you can do to prepare your puppy for encountering these unknown dogs:

Training with Positive Reinforcement Techniques 

One of the best ways to help your puppy overcome their fear of other dogs is through positive reinforcement training. 

This means rewarding your puppy for good behavior and ignoring bad behavior. 

For example, if your puppy shows curiosity towards another dog, praise them and give them a treat.

If they cower or run away, don’t scold them but instead try to distract them with a toy or treat.

Another important aspect of positive reinforcement training is consistency.

Make sure everyone in the household treats the puppy the same way when it comes to socialization and reward-based training.

This will prevent confusion and ensure that your puppy understands what kind of behavior is expected from them.

Gradually Exposing Them to Other Dogs

Another effective way to help your puppy overcome their fear of other dogs is by gradually exposing them to other new dogs in a safe environment. 

Start by introducing your pup to one friendly dog at a time, preferably one that’s calm and well-behaved.

Allow them to observe and interact at their own pace, and always reward positive behavior.

Gradually increase the number of dogs your puppy is exposed to, while ensuring that the encounters remain positive and controlled.

By gradually increasing your puppy’s exposure to other dogs, you can help them build confidence and reduce their fear.

Socialization Classes and Puppy Playdates

Enrolling your puppy in socialization classes or setting up playdates with other puppies is another great way to help them overcome their fear of other dogs. 

In socialization classes, your puppy will have the opportunity to interact with other puppies of different breeds and sizes in a controlled environment under the supervision of an experienced trainer.

puppy socializing with other dogs

Similarly, organizing playdates at the dog park with other puppies allows your pup to learn how to properly socialize and play with other dogs in a safe, managed situation.

 Just make sure that the other puppies are also friendly and well-behaved to ensure positive interactions.

How CBD Oil May Help

CBD oil interacts with your puppy’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating various functions, including mood, appetite, and immune response. By affecting the way certain neurotransmitters function, CBD can help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation in dogs.

When it comes to fear and anxiety in puppies, CBD oil could potentially help them feel calmer and more relaxed around other dogs. This natural supplement might make the process of socialization and exposure to other dogs less overwhelming for your puppy.

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Working with a Professional Dog Trainer or Behaviorist 

If your puppy’s fear of other dogs is severe, it might be helpful to work with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. 

They can assess your puppy’s behavior, identify the root cause of their fear, and develop a customized training plan to help them overcome their anxiety.

A professional can also provide you with valuable tips and techniques to help your puppy feel more comfortable around other dogs, as well as advice on how to manage any aggressive behavior that might arise.

Patience and Consistency 

Helping your puppy overcome their fear of other dogs requires patience and consistency. 

It’s important to remember that every puppy is different, and some may take longer than others to overcome their fears. 

It’s essential that you are patient and consistent with your training efforts to ensure the best possible outcome for your puppy.

Final Thoughts on Why Puppies Fear Other Dogs

Fear of other dogs, especially big dogs, or small dogs that are loud and intense, is a common issue among puppies, but with the right approach, patience, and dedication, you can help your furry friend overcome their anxiety. 

By understanding the causes of your puppy’s fear and implementing the techniques and strategies outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to raising a happy, confident, and well-adjusted puppy that enjoys the company of other dogs.

Remember that every puppy is unique, and some may require more time and effort to overcome their fears.

Happy puppy lying down on the grass

By providing a loving and supportive environment for your puppy, you can help them develop the confidence and skills they need to become well-rounded, well-behaved adult dogs.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
Jen Smart

Jen is the founder of, a leading resource for managing and treating anxiety in dogs. With over a decade of experience in working with rescue dogs, Jen holds diplomas in Understanding Canine Anxiety, Canine Holistic Health & Therapy, CBD Oil for Animals, and Zoopharmacognosy. Her expert insights help dog owners navigate the challenges of anxiety with compassionate, innovative solutions. Follow Jen’s guidance at Anxious Canine for a calmer, happier dog.

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