We all have phobias in life. Some are pretty common (bugs, clowns), others are a little on the strange side (phobias of cheese, anyone?). But some of the oddest phobias have got to be awarded to our favorite fur babies. Here are 8 of the weirdest phobias dogs have and why exactly they have them.
1. Hats and Sunglasses
Have you ever noticed that your dog gets a little weirded out every time you throw on a pair of shades or leave the house in your favorite baseball cap? It’s because a lot of dogs have a huge phobia of ”disguises.” Strange, right? Well, not if you think about it. Dogs love seeing someone’s face clearly because they’re amazing people decoders. They may feel someone who is in “disguise” in hats, sunglasses, hoodies, even a Halloween costume, is not to be trusted. If a puppy is not properly socialized with many different situations and people between 4 weeks to 4 months of age, they may easily develop this phobia as they get older.
As the owner, you must explain to any person who wants to interact with your dog to take off their “disguise” so your dog can relax. You can also help your dog get over this phobia by wearing hats around them and giving them a ton of treats and love when they don’t act up.
Does your dog tremble in fear during the 4th of July or hide in your closet on New Year’s Eve? A very common fear in dogs is fireworks. Why? Dogs have senses that are much more developed than humans. They hear noises at much higher pitches than we do, so fireworks must sound like the world is ending to your poor pooch.
As pup parents, our first reaction is to hold them and comfort them but this is actually the worst thing you can do. When you coddle them while they are acting afraid, they will think they are being praised for their reaction and will continue to have this response. Remain calm and detached and show no signs of fear. Treat the fireworks as if they’re not there and your dog will do the same.
Some dogs are absolutely terrified of stairs and will stop, even mid-run, as they approach a set. This is another phobia that’s almost always due to a lack of early socialization. When your dog isn’t exposed to steps or stairs as a young puppy, they may develop this irrational fear later in life.
A great way to get your dog over this phobia is to make a fun game out of going up and down the stairs.
It’s actually really common for dogs to have a phobia of men. I myself have had 2 dogs that favored women and know plenty of other dogs who feel the same way. Where does this fear stem from? Unfortunately, it occurs mainly in dogs that have been abused by a man in their past. But it can also show up in dogs that have a lack of socialization to men early on.
The best way to help them with this fear is to slowly desensitize them to men in a non-threatening manner. My fiancé is a tall man, so when he approaches a dog that is fearful of men, he gets on their level (so he’s not towering over them) and lets the dog come to him. It works every time. He’s literally the dog whisperer.
5. Vacuum Cleaners
A lot of dogs develop a fear of different objects – the vacuum cleaner, garbage bags, a loud toy, etc. My Monte goes berserk every time we take the trash out for some reason. Usually, this is due to the noise, vibrations, or odd motion of that object. Remember, dogs have crazy intense senses.
Slowly introduce them to the vacuum (or any object they’re afraid of) in a positive, happy manner. Give your pup a treat each time you vacuum the house and they will start to see it as a good thing instead of something to be feared.
6. Being Left Alone
How sad is it every time you have to leave your dog alone and they give you those puppy eyes and that face like they can’t believe you’re abandoning them? Well, that’s because your dog is literally thinking you’re never going to come back. A lot of dogs just can’t handle this type of emotion. They will whine and bark the whole time you’re gone or even chew through walls, break items in the house, pee everywhere, and cause all-out destruction!
There are a couple ways you can help your dog with their separation anxiety. One way is to tire them out before you leave the house. Play fetch for 10 minutes or go on a quick walk so that they can knock out when you leave. Another thing you can do is leave the radio or TV on. Staying low key when you leave and return home can help as well. Don’t make it a big deal and your dog won’t either. You can also hide your pooch’s favorite treats all over the house so that they’re totally distracted while you’re gone.
7. Car Rides
My Monte despises car rides! It’s another typical dog phobia that usually stems from bad associations with the car. I know in my dog’s case, he was a very sick puppy so the only times we took him in the car was to take him to the vet. He associates the car with the vet and freaks out. Another reason your dog might be scared is because he’s had a bad experience in a car such as a car accident or getting car sick. If your dog is a rescue, they may worry they’re going back to the rescue center.
To help your dog conquer this fear, offer your pup treats while he’s in the car. Start with shorter rides to get your dog accustomed to it. Put a comfy blanket down or bring their favorite toy so they’re comfortable. Some dogs would even benefit from crating during car trips. Take them to fun places, instead of just to the vet or groomer. Make the whole experience a positive one.
Another common (and scary) phobia is kids. Your furry friend may not be a fan of little boys and girls for a couple of reasons. They may have had a bad experience with a child. Another is a lack of early exposure to children. In other cases, a lot of dogs just simply don’t like and don’t trust kids for no reason at all.
You may want to crate your pet when they’re around kids or put a basket muzzle on them as a safety precaution. This is also a phobia that would be better handled by a professional dog trainer or behaviorist because this can be a dangerous phobia. Sometimes it’s better off to accept your dog is better in adults-only situations.
All dogs have their own personalities and their own phobias and as a pup parent, it’s important to be able to recognize and help your fur baby be as comfortable as possible.
Does your pup have a strange phobia not listed here? Let us know in the comments!