Why are dogs scared of other dogs…?

A while back I asked for topics to cover in my blogs, as rather than just harping on about the dog related things that are on my mind, I thought it might be helpful to write blogs about questions that you guys have. Here is the first of such blogs, answering the question as to why dogs are scared of other dogs

Well some dogs are scared of all dogs, some are only scared of dogs that come up to them, and some are only scared of dogs of a certain size, or breed. Ultimately they are fearful for their safety, and for ours as their owners as well.

I often find the simplest way to explain something is to humanise it. So I want you to imagine that you are in the army. You are holed up in your bunker. You know that for as long as you stay in your bunker and no one from the enemy comes in, you are safe. All the people in your bunker are on your side, so none of them are going to hurt you. Then your sergant comes in and tells you to get your gear, you’re going out there. Suddenly you aren’t safe, and every one you see who isn’t wearing your uniform is a potential threat. Some are very obvious threats, as they clearly appear to mean you harm, so you get the first shot in to keep yourself and your fellow troops safe, or immediately respond to their attack, with a counter attack or a retreat. Others are less obvious. They look like civilians, but you are in their country, and you know that a lot of them aren’t happy about your presence, so you can’t assume that they won’t hurt you either…

This is how a dog who is scared of other dogs feels. They are safe at home in your pack, all the people and the other dogs in your house are on their side, but then you go out there. They do not understand that you are going out for the fun of it, and neither do a log of the other dogs you’ll see. All they know is that they are leaving their territory, so they are either in another pack’s territory, or in no-man’s land. They are looking at these other dogs with suspicion, wary that they might mean them harm. Some dogs will try to ‘get the first shot off’ (showing aggression, barking and lunging at other dogs), to save themselves and their pack, others will just be very very wary of what is going on, and the movements of each dog they see.

So that explains why they are scared of other dogs. But what can you do about it? That’s where I come in. I train dog owners how to show their dogs that there is nothing to worry about. It’s about clearly communicating with your dogs in a way that the dog understands, and gaining the dog’s trust in your ability to make decisions for the safety of the pack as a whole. If you are based in Essex and the surrounding areas, then give me a call and I’ll explain in more detail about how I can help. I’d also recommend reading “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell.

Additionally, a new project has made its way across to the UK recently, which encourages dog owners whose dogs might need a little space to wear a yellow ribbon, so that others know to leave that dog in peace. That way the owners of boisterous dogs can call their dogs back to them, and show the yellow ribbon wearer a little respect, by not allowing their dog to terrify it and that approach potentially leading to a fight. For more information click here.

If there are any other topics you would like covered, please comment at the end of this blog.


2 thoughts on “Why are dogs scared of other dogs…?

  1. Hi Vicky and thanks for answering my question with this post! Unfortunately Italy is not very close to Essex, but I will do my best to observe how my two dogs behave when they see another dog, as gathering information is probably the best step to take first. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Chiara, You can always have a read of The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell. I’m pretty sure you can get it in Italian too! You’re very welcome, thanks for the question! 🙂

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