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Is Your Dog Hiding? What to Do About It

Is your dog hiding? This behavior is usually a response to changes in the environment or health issues. Here’s how to handle dog hiding.

Stephanie Osmanski  |  Apr 10th 2019


Believe it or not, hiding isn’t just a behavior reserved for felines. Dogs hide, too — and dog hiding is actually pretty common. According to Dr. David Dilmore, DVM, of Banfield Pet Hospital, dog hiding often occurs when dogs feel stressed, confused or are in an unfamiliar situation.

So, is your dog hiding? Find out how to help your dog, if the behavior deserves the attention of a vet and get to the bottom of why your dog is hiding.

What are some common causes of dogs hiding?

A scared dog hiding under a bed.

Is your dog hiding? Here’s why — and how to help her. Photography ©hidako | Thinkstock.

“Dogs can hide because they are scared or stressed,” Dr. Dilmore says. “For some dogs, small, dark spaces can be comforting during stressful situations.”

If your dog often disappears, you might wonder if this behavior is normal. The most important thing to look for when assessing dog hiding is change.

Many times, a dog hiding is responding to some kind of change: perhaps a move, a loss, the introduction of new people, a new place, etc. “Hosting out-of-town guests, traveling or even just a change in [a dog’s] daily routine can be stressful for dogs and can sometimes cause them to seek hiding spots,” Dr. Dilmore says.

Or, could it be a change in the weather, environment or in the people surrounding your dog?

“This behavior can also be seen during anxiety-inducing situations like thunderstorms or when fireworks are going off,” Dr. Dilmore adds.

Does dog hiding ever signal health issues?

Most often, a dog hiding is responding to some kind of change in her regular routine. However, if you are having a hard time pinpointing a significant change, consider your dog’s health. In some cases, dog hiding indicates a health issue.

“While some dogs hide when they’re scared or anxious,” Dr. Dilmore says, “hiding can also be a sign of illness. If your dog is hiding and you notice any signs that she might not be feeling well, it’s best to contact your veterinarian who can help determine the underlying cause of her hiding.”

Are there any other reasons for dog hiding?

Another reason for dog hiding? It might be a side effect of a new medication. Discuss with your doctor immediately to explore changing to a different medication.

How can you stop dog hiding behaviors?

When your dog is in distress, it’s hard not to feel in distress yourself. According to Dr. Dilmore, here’s what you can do when your dog is hiding:

  1. Stay on a schedule: Keep your daily routine as consistent as possible. That means feeding, walking and playing with your dog at the times she’s used to.
  2. Offer a comfort zone: Provide a safe place for your dog to escape to. A quiet bedroom where your dog can go to get away from the commotion and be alone may help to alleviate anxiety.
  3. Meet and greet with caution: Don’t force your dog to interact with new people or unfamiliar pets. Allow your dog to initiate the contact.

Is dog hiding ever a cause for concern?

As mentioned, dog hiding is usually indicative of stress on your dog, but in some cases, it signals a health issue. How can you tell the difference? Knowing your dog’s normal behaviors and tracking any important changes in her routine is crucial to assessing your dog’s reasons for hiding.

“Hiding can be a concern in cases of anxiety or illness,” D. Dilmore explains. “If you are concerned about your dog’s hiding behavior or if it is out of character for your pet, you should take her to see a veterinarian.”

Thumbnail: Photography ©alexkich | Getty Images. 

About the author

Stephanie Osmanski is a freelance writer and social media consultant who specializes in health and wellness content. Her words have appeared in Seventeen, Whole Dog Journal, Parents Magazine and more. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton and writing a memoir. She lives in New York with her Pomsky, Koda, who is an emotional support animal training to be a certified therapy dog.

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