Puppies are just beginning to learn their way in the world, and a small amount of trepidation and anxiousness, particularly over new situations, is normal. However, a habitually frightened puppy who is unable to socialize or function in normal settings may have underlying emotional, mental or health problems that require veterinary assistance.
A puppy who is taken from its mother and siblings too soon may experience anxiety and have behavioral issues because he didn't have the opportunity to learn these early skills from his litter mates and mother. Pups often learn acceptable behaviors from brothers and sisters through play fighting, and they learn from their mother when to be wary of dangerous situations. A pup without this knowledge may be frightened until he becomes accustomed to learning these skills on his own.
Puppy Mill Puppy
A young dog produced by a puppy mill may have a variety of emotional and physical issues that cause him to be skittish and frightened. Puppy mill pups are often inbred, not socialized properly and may have undetected health problems. They are often reared in crowded, noisy conditions and don't get the time or attention they need to become well-adjusted, which can make them wary of new situations.
Unfortunately, many puppies who behave in a scared manner are frightened because they were abused in the past. This can be prevalent in shelter and rescue dogs. These puppies need consistent love, care and attention to help them overcome their past emotional trauma and learn to trust human beings again.
Just like people, some puppies have naturally anxious personalities. Your puppy may be frightened of other household animals, loud sounds or may suffer separation anxiety when you’re away. These pups may benefit from behavioral training and proper socialization to help them overcome their fears. In extreme cases, your vet may recommend an antidepressant or antianxiety medication to help relieve fears.
Identify and Overcome Fears
Study your puppy to find common threads in fearful situations and look for ways to alleviate the fear sources where you can. For example, if your dog is afraid of loud noises, don’t run power tools around him; if he’s frightened when storms strike, put him in a covered kennel in an insulated part of the house with a chew toy to distract him. Some puppies outgrow common fears as they mature and become more confident.