Dogs & Fear of Strangers: Reading the Signs

Dogs & Fear of Strangers: Reading the SignsIf your dog has a fear of strangers, he’s not the only one. Depending on the temperament and socialization your dog experienced as a puppy, he or she might be anxious or nervous around new people and dogs. As many people see a dog and their first reaction is to pet without asking, strangers don’t always help the situation. Therefore, we have composed a list of ways to read your dog’s body language to determine how he or she feels so you can act accordingly. In addition, protect your pet, regardless of breed or size with a Canine Liability Insurance to give you the peace of mind you deserve.

Barking or whimpering.

What might seem like an ill-behaved dog might actually indicate fear or anxiety in your pet. According to Canidae, barking can merely be an expression of fear at the appearance of a stranger, being in new surroundings, experiencing pain or an injury, or the presence of something new and unknown in their territory. If you help your dog understand that whatever is upsetting them is something you can assist them with, your dog will calm down. Barking and whimpering are not just signs of a dog being territorial, angry or even excited and happy. They may be feeling fearful, and looking to you for reassurance and a solution.


If you have a puppy, chances are he or she will cling to you for reassurance if they are unsure of strangers of their surroundings. While an adult dog might hesitate to do the same, note any unusual clinginess as this indicates discomfort and the need for safety from you.

Body positioning.

When new people approach and your dog reacts by cringing, slinking lower to the ground, or crouching with their tail between their legs, your dog is anxious or afraid. Note any bearing of teeth, raised hackles, and tenseness in the body as strangers approach. If any of these actions are demonstrated, it’s time to ease your dog into the situation and coach him through it to ensure he or she does not react negatively.

About FIDO

There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (407) 865-7477, ext. 101.

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