Shadow and reflection phobia in dogs may stem from a number of different causes, including sciophobia, poor eyesight, panic attacks, OCD, a lack of socialization, or even just bad events in the past.

Solutions include cognitive behavioral therapy, “Distract, redirect & reward,” appropriate socialization, desensitization, and visits to the veterinarian. Try to narrow down the possible causes of your dog’s problem by going through each one in turn. Don’t fret about how to fix this problem just now; we’ll talk about some options in a moment.

For the first two months of our relationship, she never left the safety of our bed, instead spending almost every waking hour there. Training her helped us to remove her from the situation. We have moved her bed into the living room and left a light on for her there at night. During the day, she sleeps near ours.

Our apartment complex is the first one on the left as you get off the main road. As a result, the windows let in the outside noise and cast long shadows over the living room and kitchen. She has a severe fear of them. Unless it was really quiet, she avoided the kitchen. 

Why Is My Dog Scared of Shadows: Reasons and Solutions Guide

Why do dogs chase shadows? 

Observing a dog chase its own shadow may seem strange at first, but it becomes understandable as we learn more about canine psychology. When a dog starts following its shadow, how old is it? Who knows what kind of dog he is. What is the dog’s lifestyle? When does this action usually happen? The information gleaned from the responses to these inquiries may be used to fill in the gaps in the bigger picture.

While dogs are really rather bright, they are nonetheless unable to provide logical explanations for all of the strange things they see in the world. Therefore, dogs don’t get the concept of thunder, don’t get the concept of vacuum cleaners, and don’t get the concept of the trash truck that goes around on Fridays making a lot of noise.

Dogs can’t cognitively grasp all the terrible things that are a natural part of their environments and frequently arrive out of nowhere, such as storms, and the vacuum cleaner or garbage truck, although loud, are not monsters on wheels.

Why is my dog scared of shadows?

Puppies do the sweetest things, like chasing their tails and their shadows, and are thus adorable. Dogs throughout their adolescence also exhibit endearing behaviors, such as a fascination with light and an obsession with chasing their shadows. However, your dog’s fun antics may develop into unhealthy obsessions and lead to worry.

When dogs discover that no matter how hard they try, they will never catch that shadow, the game quickly becomes stressful. Your dog will benefit much from your efforts to curb this undesirable habit. Unfortunately, until a dog-to-human translator is developed, you will never know what frightened your dog.

A dog’s body language may tell you a lot about what it’s thinking and feeling, so it can help you make educated guesses.

1. Phobias

A phobia is a typical explanation for your dog’s sudden timidity. While canines don’t store information in the same way that humans do, they do have a strong reaction to happy or unpleasant events. Fireworks and thunderstorms are frequent triggers for canine noise phobias. Dogs are terrified by the loud noises, bright lights, and flashing images.

Anxious and distressing behaviors such as panting, whimpering, and pacing are common in phobic dogs. Sometimes dogs may acquire a fear of certain items or locations in addition to sounds. Rover may be hesitant to go into new environments, such as the kitchen or the living room.

Then, obviously, something has frightened your dog to the point that he won’t go near it. Rover may become terrified anytime you reach for the leash if he has experienced anything traumatic on his regular stroll. Fear is a taught response to various kinds of threats.

So you may desensitize your dog to whatever is scaring him with enough time and sweet incentives. If your dog was behaving strangely and terrified because of loud noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms, you may acclimate him to them.

You might attempt to block the noise with other familiar noises or calming music (as in the video below) (like in the video below). Another option is to take Rover somewhere quiet and shut the door to let him relax.

2. Illness

Usually, a rapid change in behavior is a warning sign for most dog owners. Dogs behave abnormally when they are ill or in pain, but they can’t tell you that. When canines are sick, they often go inside to rest. However, some dogs may experience acute fear when they are in pain.

This is because they are unable to understand what is happening to them. You, too, would feel fear if you were in a similar scenario. Keep an eye out for additional symptoms of sickness in your dogs, such as listlessness, nausea, diarrhea, fever, or a complete lack of appetite.

The cause of your dog’s fear may not necessarily be anything terrible, but you should nonetheless investigate it. There are a number of additional symptoms that might indicate your dog is unwell.

3. Isolation Anxiety

There is a link between a dog and its owner. However, some animals and their humans develop such a strong attachment that the separation is too much for the pet. A number of dog breeds are predisposed to developing separation anxiety.

Some dogs with separation anxiety yelp, howl, and pace if they’re left alone. Some, however, become quite distressed when it is time for the human to go and become very clinging as a result. Most dogs with separation anxiety become destructive while their owners are gone.

This leads many owners to fail to recognize the issue as a behavioral one. Your dog, however, is in a lot of pain and has little control over his behavior. As a result, if your dog suddenly starts behaving anxiously just before you leave home, it might be a sign of separation anxiety.

You’ll have to educate your dog that being alone is not a terrible thing. If you or a loved one suffers from separation anxiety, I highly recommend watching the video below in which Zak George offers some helpful advice.

4. Experiences of abuse or trauma in the past

Oftentimes, the background and experiences of an adopted dog are kept hidden from their new owners. Rover may be fearful of things that remind him of his traumatic past if he has a history of abuse since your dog may have been a victim of abuse. If you make an angry or tense sound, or if there is tension in the home, your dog may become fearful. Your dog may get suddenly startled if you walk on his tail or paws by accident.

Fear may also be triggered by other senses, such as scent, tone of voice, or even hand motions. If your dog associates a stranger with the abuser, he may become fearful of them. You’ll need to win your dog’s trust and conduct some desensitization therapy if he’s reactive to certain things. If you need help with training a dog who is afraid of things, go no further than Zak George. Check out his advice down below.

5. Your dog has scars from what

It’s common knowledge that canine noses and ears are far more attuned to their surroundings than ours. If your dog exhibits sudden fear, I suggest going to a window to see what’s going on. It’s possible that there are other canine companions or dangerous animals nearby. As a result of smelling them, your dog may be behaving strangely or fearfully. Usually, chasing away the invaders is the best method to make your dog feel better.

You can also have mice, termites, or other pests in the home. Some canines may be sensitive to the presence of rodents, exhibiting fearful behavior if they detect rodent odors or detect noises coming from hidden locations. Furthermore, your dog may be responding to something that is out of earshot. Some dog owners claim, for instance, that even distant thunderstorms have an effect on their pet’s demeanor. Dog and cat owners have reported strange behavior in the moments leading up to the quakes.

6. Diseases of old age

Aging may impair a dog’s sensory abilities. Many senior pets have problems orientating about the home. That might be one reason why your dog has suddenly become fearful. In addition, some geriatric canines have cognitive impairment. These canines have no idea where they are or what is going on.

If that’s happening to your pup, he is likely to be terrified out of his mind. In addition to these behaviors, dogs with dementia may also get disoriented, walk aimlessly, have sudden mood changes, become overly aggressive, or spend long periods of time looking blankly ahead.

7. Inadequate socialization

Last but not least, a lack of sufficient socialization might lead to abrupt fear in dogs. During the socialization phase, puppies explore the environment so that they get familiar with various sorts of people and items. Unfortunately, not all dogs are socialized in the same way. If your dog hasn’t been habituated to this new environment, it may react with instant fear.

Some canines may be apprehensive about individuals wearing glasses or loud noises, such as children screaming. Many things may frighten a dog, and it’s not always clear which one it is. But once you do, you can concentrate on providing your dog the aid he needs to live a life free of fear.

What are dog phobias?

Why Is My Dog Scared of Shadows: Reasons and Solutions Guide

Many canines have anxiety and fear issues. Lack of early socialization or a traumatic event may both play a role in the development of certain phobias. Signs of fear in dogs include crouching, shivering, drooling, barking, destructive behavior, and, in rare circumstances, violence.

How frightened is your dog, generally speaking? Have you determined why? To better assist your dog, familiarize yourself with the most often encountered phobias and anxieties in canines.

1. Having a phobia of thunder

Instinctive aversion to the sound of thunder, known as astraphobia, is frequent in canines. The extent to which dogs experience this apprehension varies considerably across individuals.

For some people, a fear of thunder may be rather modest. During a thunderstorm, a dog may show signs of nervousness such as trembling or flattened ears, large eyes, and a tucked tail. 2 Some dogs suffer from extreme phobias that cause them to hide, become destructive, or even have urine or bowel control issues.

Astraphobia dogs may or may not also be frightened of fireworks or other loud sounds. Many canines suffer from anxiety if loud noises are around. They are easily frightened by loud noises such as those produced by thunder, fireworks, loud music, passing vehicles, and so on.

2. Fireworks induce panic

Fireworks are a major source of anxiety for many dogs. Similar to the dread of thunderstorms, the loud and unexpected noises and light displays of fireworks make many dogs quiver in terror. A dog’s dread of thunderstorms might lead it to run away and become lost.

Some canines may overcome their fear of pyrotechnics by gradually being exposed to the noise. Occasionally, though, you’ll want to use some management strategies. Sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs may be necessary for dogs with a serious fear of pyrotechnics.

3. Isolation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is the worry that something bad will happen if you are left alone. Dogs with separation anxiety can become destructive as soon as their owners leave home. Other indications include destructive behavior when left alone, such as excessive barking. 

A change in the owner’s demeanor might make a fearful dog feel more secure. Some of a dog’s nervousness may be reduced if its owner simply adjusts his or her routine before leaving and maintains a low profile while away and upon return.

Dogs with separation anxiety may benefit from desensitization, which involves gradually increasing the dog’s tolerance for being left alone. Crate training a dog to be calm while its owner is gone another option. Medication for the animal may be necessary in cases of extreme separation anxiety.

What causes anxious behaviors in dogs?

Why Is My Dog Scared of Shadows: Reasons and Solutions Guide

Dogs may get frightened or anxious for several causes. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out why your dog is acting strange, but other times it might be a real mystery. That’s when it helps to use trial and error (or at least pay close attention to the signs that their body language is giving away nervousness) to figure out what’s causing their unusual conduct.

As with humans, there are a variety of causes for canine anxiety. Anxiety may be categorized into three distinct groups: separation anxiety, anxiety in a dog who was previously in a rescue or shelter, and illness-induced anxiety. Similarly, a dog may suffer from generalized anxiety.

1. Stress related to being apart

When pet owners return to the workplace after spending time working from home, the pets often suffer from Separation Anxiety. When left alone, a dog suffering from separation anxiety may chew up furniture, bark, whine, scream excessively, or even eliminate it in the home. This habit may occur whether you’re gone an hour or merely 5 minutes.

Anxiety over being apart from loved ones is rather typical. Very few dogs genuinely LIKE being left alone — they are sociable creatures by nature. Boredom and isolation, maybe stemming from a past unpleasant experience when left alone, are major contributors to the anxiety experienced here. Separation anxiety in senior dogs may also be the result of age-related declines in their cognitive abilities, such as their memory.

Take your dog for a walk before you leave, distract them with a plush treat toy, avoid making a big deal out of your arrival and departure, or use one of these other natural methods to assist your dog cope with separation anxiety.

2. Rescue/former shelter anxiety

Animals that have been at a shelter for any length of time may harbor resentment or fear because of their association with abandonment. It’s also possible that something horrific happened to them previously or perhaps while they were in the shelter.

It’s possible that these dogs’ overall nervousness stems from their experiences with routine or environmental changes being abrupt or unexpected. Those who suffer from generalized anxiety often develop separation anxiety when they worry they will be abandoned again.

The best method to make these dogs feel secure in their own surroundings is to establish regular, predictable routines. A behaviorist or trainer may assist in identifying the cause of their anxiety and suggest strategies for reducing it.

3. Social anxiety

Dogs who suffer social anxiety are more prone to display signs like barking, lunging, and hostility when around new people or strange dogs. This is occasionally something that can be weeded out through training.

But the first step in relieving your dog’s fear is to figure out what’s causing it. Taking your dog to the vet physically or through a simple Telehealth consultation with a provider like Vetster should offer you the answer to your queries and help you to put out an action plan.

4. Anxiety caused by illness

Disease and sickness are sources of anxiety and terror in canines. Dogs who have never shown signs of nervousness before can develop them abruptly. Illness or sickness may trigger anxious or fearful behavior in dogs.

You should see your veterinarian confirm this. To get a health insurance policy that fits your needs specifically, try a company like Fetch by the Dodo or Eusoh. A sudden or drastic change in your dog’s behavior warrants a trip to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues. Even if they seem to be in good health elsewhere, there are a number of alternative possibilities.

5. Stress and anxiety around the world

There is no one clear reason why people experience anxiety. It’s possible that the original trigger for your pet’s fear occurred long before he or she joined your household. There’s also the possibility that your dog is naturally anxious and reacts negatively to any kind of disruption in their habit or surroundings.

Generalized anxiety disorder is very prevalent yet often misdiagnosed. This may occur when the symptoms are mild or otherwise inconspicuous. It’s easy to brush off a dog’s generalized anxiousness as a regular trait of his or her breed when, in reality, it’s more likely due to something else.

How to stop my dog from chasing lights and shadows?

Why Is My Dog Scared of Shadows: Reasons and Solutions Guide

Animals, like people, are susceptible to experiencing anxiety. Anxiety is a common problem among the dogs in our care, and it’s often a direct result of their experiences at the shelter and/or with their former owners. Anxiety may be handled in the same ways that other problematic habits can. Although anxiety disorders are treatable, there are occasions when they can only be controlled.

This article is essential reading for dog owners dealing with anxious pets. We’ll go through some tried-and-true strategies for helping your dog overcome anxiety and live a long, healthy life. Now that we know that there are many potential triggers for your dog’s anxiety let’s talk about some tried-and-true methods for easing his distress.

Anxiety may cause a wide range of behaviors, including but not limited to whining, barking, shaking, and whimpering. When stressed, your dog may also exhibit destructive or confrontational behaviors. If the anxiety isn’t treated, they can eventually stop eating and withdraw entirely.

1. Bring your dog outside and play

You should obviously never leave your dog alone if it suffers from separation anxiety. Most pet owners don’t have that luxury. Therefore a simple solution is to use exercise as quality time together and to wear out their pet.

Anxiety may lead to hyperactivity, so tire out your dog by taking him or her for a long walk or a game of Fetch before you leave. Providing lots of physical touches and chatting to them during this time is also useful. Like humans, animals that engage in physical activity see a reduction in stress levels.

2. Intimate confrontation

When a dog is feeling apprehensive, nothing may help more than a gentle pat on the head from its owner. Picking up your dog, snuggling with it on the sofa, and giving it plenty of loving caressing are all great ways to alleviate indications of anxiety in canines.

3. Massage

It’s common knowledge that a massage can ease the tension and stress of even the most worried person; did you know that the same is true for dogs? Muscle strain is a common side effect of anxiety, and massage treatment may help release that tension.

Long, sweeping strokes should be used to move from the neck down. Maintaining contact with the dog while massaging it is a priority. With time and effort, you and your dog may eventually be able to zero in on the specific source of your dog’s anxiety.

4. Medical uses of music

Humans, dogs, and cats have all benefited from music therapy. While alone at home, in the vehicle, or away from your pet, the soothing effects of music may do wonders. Some dogs are sensitive to outside noises, and listening to music might help drown them out, particularly loud or frightening sounds. Research has found that many dogs like classical music. Harp music is often employed in hospice settings because of its calming effects.

5. Time-Out

While nervousness isn’t a negative behavior per se, it might help to give your dog some time-out when they’re acting up. Isolating your pet in a secure and quiet environment might help soothe their ruffled anxieties. Maybe that location has some extremely quiet music playing, low lighting, and/or some aromatherapy accessible (see below “Alternative Therapies”).

You may also try a ZenCrate for time-outs and as a general escape pod for your furry companion. The generate was created to aid dogs with a range of anxiety causes. It’s comparable to a regular crate, but it offers vibration isolation, noise cancellation (via sound insulation), decreased light, as well as comfort and security.

A motion-activated sensor turns on a mild fan when your dog enters, which helps block noise and delivers a continuous stream of fresh air. You may pre-program the container with music. It comes with a detachable door, so your dog may self-comfort and enter at any time.

6. Clothing for calming down

Coats and t-shirts designed to calm anxious dogs are similar to a baby’s swaddling blanket in that they deliver gentle, steady pressure to the dog’s torso. For dogs suffering from travel anxiety, separation anxiety, noise anxiety, or fear of strangers, this product comes highly recommended.

There are many different brands and models available, so you may choose the one that is best for your dog’s size. There is the Comfort Zone Calming Vest, the American Kennel Club Stress Relief Coat, and the ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket.

7. Non-traditional medical approaches

There is less proof that alternative items may help dogs with anxiety, but the ones we’ve included here are safe and won’t do any damage to your dog in the process. They are additional treatment options that may be utilized alone or in tandem with the ones already mentioned. Before trying any kind of alternative treatment on your pet, make sure you have done your homework and spoken to your doctor.

Watch Dog reacting to its own shadow | Video

Top 5 FAQs and answers related to why is my dog scared if shadows?

Why is it that my dog becomes so anxious whenever a shadow crosses its path?

Dogs who don’t have enough room to go about and play or who are kept in a limited environment sometimes exhibit this tendency. It’s common for a dog to lack both physical and mental stimulation if it spends all of its time chasing shadows.
He treats it like a toy and attempts to capture it, but because it’s only a shadow, he’ll never win. A sense of futility and increased nervousness follow.

My dog has developed a sudden phobia of the dark; what gives?

Separation anxiety is a major contributor to a dog’s sensitivity to the dark when it’s stressed. When a dog experiences worry due to separation from its human caretaker, this is known as separation anxiety. When dogs are left alone for extended periods of time, this is a regular occurrence.

Can shadows be understood by dogs?

A puppy might develop a dread of its metal bowl if it is not used regularly from an early age, if the puppy is frightened by the bowl’s movement while feeding, or if the puppy sees his or her reflection in the bowl. Shadows are something a dog cannot logically fathom the movement of.

Does my dog seem to be afraid of his reflection?

Dogs may or may not genuinely perceive themselves in a mirror. If they do, he could be tired of looking at himself in the mirror. Some people attribute their inability to notice it to a misunderstanding of what it is to be “self” and how to interpret one’s reflection. In any case, this is typical behavior for canines.

Please advise on how I may help my dog overcome its fear of the dark?

You should try to divert your dog’s attention away from the shadows by giving it a new toy or some other interesting object.


This is a common symptom in dogs who aren’t given enough mental and physical stimulation, such as those that are kept in confined quarters. Dogs that chase their own shadows may not be getting enough exercise or mental challenge. Dogs are sensitive animals that show signs of stress and obsession when faced with too much novelty.

If you see any of these behaviors or even the beginnings of them, it’s important to make any required adjustments to the surrounding environment. Dogs may get anxious when they encounter factors like flapping curtains, bright lights, or anything shiny. Shadow chasing may be tiresome and contribute to a lack of sleep.

With sufficient training, you may learn to deflect a dog’s attention from their shadow. Make careful to get expert dog training guidance before employing a cone or other interventions. Understanding the source of the issue will assist in discovering a solution.

Dogs that are herding or working dogs require physical stimulus to keep them happy or occupied. You should take advantage of training and agility chances to mentally and physically challenge your dog. It’s important to keep an eye out for the first warning signals of compulsive behavior, especially in the case of shadows.

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