It may be hard to believe, but dogs really do try to hide. You'll probably be well aware of the fact if you've just come home and found your pup tucked out of the way as far under the bed as he can possibly get. It's worrying isn't it? Especially when he'd normally come bounding out to greet you, but instead you've had to go in search of him to find out where he's at.
Have you just discovered your dog cowering under the sofa? If you've struggled to be able to make him come out, even when you've tried tempting him with his favorite treat, you are, in all probability, wondering what on earth is the matter with him and understandably so. If you're questioning yourself and trying to work out if there's any logical reason your dog has started hiding, well, rest assured there's an answer to every question, all you need to do is find the right one.
So why do dogs try to hide?
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The Root of the Behavior
Dogs can suffer from bouts of insecurity. It may be, if he's a young dog, you've not left him on his own very often and when you do, he's not too happy with the situation. If being alone in the house makes him feel vulnerable, he's going to try and find a spot where he feels safer and more secure until you return home again. That could be somewhere like under the bed where it's dark and cavernous or behind a chair close to the wall where he feels more protected.
Although dogs don't show stress and anxiety the same way humans do, they can still suffer from either. If you've got a houseful of friends over to watch a football match and have a few beers, things can get quite noisy. You might be enjoying the company of your guests, but if your dog has just run into the bedroom with his tail between his legs, you'd be quite right in surmising he isn't. Strangers, particularly en mass, invading his territory and being over-familiar with his pack leader, which is you, can give your dog a serious panic attack. He'll want to remove himself as far away as possible to somewhere he feels safe until it all quietens down again.
We all like to imagine that our dog will protect our home while we're out. In fact, we often carry images in our minds of our pet turning ferocious at the first sign of an intruder and that is basically what we expect to happen in the event of an unexpected threat. If you've ever seen firsthand or watched a video of a German Shepherd hiding in a bathtub because it's thundering and lightning outside, you'll have realized that dogs can also suffer from fear of the unknown or can be afraid of scary loud noises, no matter what size they are.
Encouraging the Behavior
When a dog is feeling vulnerable or under attack, it's natural for him to want to escape. The only way he can do that is by running away and hiding in whatever spot he can fit into. If your dog is hiding while you are at home, you might want to try and assess the reason for his sudden bout of nervousness.
It could be something as simple as too much volume on the TV which is upsetting him. If you're watching a noisy film with lots of gunfire, it could, to your pet's sensitive hearing, sound like the onset of Armageddon. Turn it down a bit and you'll find he'll soon come creeping back out again looking for his share of the popcorn.
Dogs are by nature pack animals, but that doesn't mean they always want to be the life and soul of the pack party. Even dogs need some down time and if your dog is trying to hide, it could just mean he's in the mood for a spot of solitude and time alone in which to contemplate on the more important aspects of canine life. He could also be trying to transmit to you he's not feeling quite up to scratch as many dogs will try to hide when they're feeling unwell.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dogs can be quite emotional creatures. We accept it as normal to see our pets being lovingly affectionate or boisterously excited but very rarely consider they may be having a bad moment. If your dog starts hiding and is difficult to entice out, you may want to consider he may be going through a bout of the doggy blues. Yes, dogs can suffer from depression too. To get a correct diagnosis on the state of your dog's mental health, the best thing to do is consult with a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.
When a dog is suffering from pain, he will try and hide out of the way. It makes him feel safer. If you think your dog could be trying to hide because he's suffered an injury of any kind, the best thing to do is get him checked over by a vet.
If your dog is hiding because he's nervous of people or changes in his environment, you should consider taking him to some sessions with a qualified dog trainer who will be able to give you advice on how to give your dog more confidence.
While it is normal for a dog to try to hide, many of the reasons they do it for can be quite concerning. You may even find that he just finds his chosen spot homely and comfortable, in which case all the coaxing in the world isn't going to get him to come out. So there's only one solution. If you really want to spend time with your dog, you're going to have to crawl under the bed and hide in there with him.