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What is Hiding?

Dogs hide for a multitude of reasons, and in most situations, it is nothing more than an occasional inconvenience. In many cases, it is perfectly natural for a dog to find a cozy space to nap or a place to hide from things that frighten them. If the behavior becomes chronic or interferes with the dog's enjoyment of life, then behavioral conditioning or medication may help alleviate the behavior. If your dog is hiding and showing any additional signs of pain or discomfort, they may be ill and require medical intervention. 

Common reasons may be:

  • Abuse
  • Illness or injury
  • Noise anxiety
  • Protection and safety
  • Solitude 
  • Storm phobia
  • Stress
  • Visiting strangers

Why Hiding Occurs in Dogs

Hiding is a normal response for canines in a number of situations. In some cases, however, the issue may be a behavioral problem or even an illness or injury. 

Abuse

Dogs who have been abused or neglected tend to be understandably nervous and fearful and small places, like under your bed or in your closet, feel comforting and safe to most canines. Dogs who hide in response to fear should not be treated roughly or aggressively as fear can sometimes turn to hostility if the animal is provoked.

Illness or Injury

Canines may also hide if they are feeling unwell. If your dog starts hiding on a regular basis with no apparent provocation, particularly if it is combined with lethargy, loss of appetite, indications of pain and discomfort, retching or vomiting, a visit to your veterinarian may be a good idea. 

Noise Anxiety

Many dogs are fearful of loud or sudden noises and will bolt and hide when they occur. Some common causes of noise anxiety in dogs include vacuum cleaners, construction noises, gunshots, and fireworks. Phobias to noise generally intensify with repeated exposure and in severe cases may require anti-anxiety drugs to resolve. 

Protection and Safety

In some situations, your dog may simply be trying to find a safe place to stay out of the way or to avoid something that appears to be dangerous. This type of response is responsible for dogs hiding when furniture is being moved or when they are in an unfamiliar environment. It is also sometimes responsible for dogs hiding during fires rather than escaping, so it is important to let fire department personnel know if you have a dog in the event of a fire. 

Solitude

Often, dogs who are sleeping under the bed or couch or in small corners aren’t necessarily hiding due to negative emotions, but may simply be finding a nice quiet place to spend some time undisturbed or to take a nap. This type of denning behavior is seen in canines of all sorts.  

Storm Phobia

Storm phobia is one of the most common of canine phobias and may have multiple triggers that cause fear and discomfort for your canine companion. Although the noise that thunder creates is a large part of most dogs trepidation, both the electrical energy that is generated and the flashing of the lighting contribute to this severe fear. 

Visiting Strangers

Many dogs may become nervous when new animals or people are introduced to their territory. If that is the case with your dog, you may be able to curb this behavior using deconditioning training.

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What to do if your Dog is Hiding

If your canine companion is simply looking for a small place to get away and rest for a while, there really isn’t anything you need to do as this is perfectly normal behavior for most canines. If your pet is hiding out of fear, however, your first instinct when you see your pet cowering in their chosen hiding spot is to comfort them.

Some veterinary behavioralists recommend ignoring the dog until it is calm in order to prevent the behavior from being reinforced, while others condone comforting the animal in a calm and reassuring manner.  If your dog appears to be in distress or in pain, your veterinarian should be consulted to determine the next course of action. It is important in these situations to coax your pet out of its hiding spot gently if at all possible. This is to avoid either injuring the dog or causing the dog to bite in fear. If the behavior is interfering with the dog’s enjoyment of life, a behavioral therapist may be able to help you to create a treatment program based on counter-conditioning training. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed to help alleviate the dog's anxiety.

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Prevention of Hiding

Although hiding in and of itself is not a behavior to be concerned about, chronic or anxiety related hiding may become disruptive to everyday life. In order to prevent natural hiding behavior from becoming chronic, you will want to expose the animal to as many new experiences as they can handle as early in their life as possible. If you are bringing a new animal home and you suspect that abuse may have been a part of their previous lives it may take quite a bit of time and effort to teach them how to trust again, but having a calm and balanced environment from the beginning at their new home may help start things off on the right foot.

Other prevention methods can depend on the underlying cause of the anxiety that is triggering the hiding behavior. Examples might be calming herbs or medications prior to having visitors, increasing exercise levels, or putting a thunder shirt on a dog before a thunderstorm hits.

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Cost of Hiding

The cost for treating your pet for hiding behavior will depend on his response to the therapy. A thunderstorm phobia may range in costs around $450 while the average expense for noise sensitivities is $350.

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Hiding Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Chiuahua

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9months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Not Eating

today is thursday have not eaten in a day and a half

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Puppies are prone to parasites, infectious diseases, and intestinal infections and obstructions. Small dogs can become dehydrated and hypoglycemic quickly, and it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian if he isn't eating. They will be able to examine him, see what might be going on, and get any treatment needed. In the meantime, you can make sure that his food isn't spoiled and that there isn't anything wrong with it. I hope that all goes well for him!

July 30, 2020

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Shih Tzu

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Seven Years

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Hiding In Closet

My shih Tzu is a joyful little girl , she loves getting affection and attention but recently I have noticed that she had been hiding in the closet and when I call for her she just stays there and doesn’t want to come out , this is very unusual of her. what should I do ?

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I think that she is trying to tell you that something is wrong, whether she has neck or back pain, or doesn't feel good. Since this behavior is so unusual for her, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They can examine her, see what might be wrong, and get treatment for her. I hope that she feels better soon!

July 28, 2020

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Lab/pit rescue

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Eight Years

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1 found helpful

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What can I do for her now.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I'm sorry she is having these problems. It is possible, if she is on pain medication, that her behavior is a side effect of that, but without knowing what medications she is on, it is hard for me to say, unfortunately. If she is continuing to have problems, having a recheck with your veterinarian would be best. They will be able to examine her, assess what is happening, and give you options for treatment. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 27, 2020

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Shiba Inu

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Three Years

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Hiding

Hello, My Shiba Inu recently had a cyst rupture. The wound is all better now but he is showing very strange behavior. He won’t stop hiding around the house. Normally, he is a velcro dog at my feet at all times but lately I can’t get him to be his normal self and all he wants to do is hide behind doors, in corners and some places I can’t find him. I know the wound no longer hurts because it’s nearly healed, he runs on it and still plays. He also, a normal vigorous eater, has to be encouraged to eat because he’d rather hide.. he’s not afraid of anyone in the house.. I’m not sure what’s going on

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry to hear that you are having issues with your dog. He many have developed anxiety from the wound. There are over the counter anxiety treats that you can get at the pet store to see if they help him not be so scared. If anything has changed in the house, it would be best to try to change back to normal if possible. Sometimes, there may be a medical issue causing these behaviors such as losing vision. If this continue, it would be best to see your vet to make sure that there is nothing medically wrong with your dog. I hope your dog starts to feel better soon

July 26, 2020

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Chihuahua

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Three Years

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1 found helpful

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Always Hiding

I have a 3-year-old Chihuahua she's eating and drinking some but she's always hiding and doesn't act like herself as a way what could be wrong

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Without examining it is difficult to say what exactly is going on. It could be pain, anxiety or something completely unrelated. It would be best to schedule an examination with your veterinarian to evaluate her. Then they can provide a diagnostic and treatment plan. I hope she feels better soon

July 24, 2020

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Kalli

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Labrador Retriever

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Hiding Under Bed

My 3 Year old Laborador retreiver is hiding under the bed and has been for 2 years. The Change happened when my son came home from the hospital. He is 2 now. She is great with him when she is out but seems to hide under the bed most of the time and doesn't engage with us unless I call and encourage her to be with us. Her and I lived alone for the first year of her life. Though the walks/runs/playing haven't stopped they definitely haven't been the same or as much as before he was born. Is there anything i can do to get her to engage and be with us in the house even to just lay with us instead of under the bed?

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delta

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minature schnowzer

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10 Years

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Anxity

my 10 year old schnowzer is getting worse at hiding under the bed. she used to just do it when we had guests come to the house. she is happy to see them but after about 10 mins she whould go and hide. now she is doing it when it is just my husband and myself at home alone. we try and give her attention and play but it still isnt enough to keep her out from under the bed. she is in good health with no issues and i really dont understand the reason for this behaviour.

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Athena

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lab boxer pit mix

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12 Months

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Serious severity

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Hiding

im currently going to be living with my brother for the next six months and his dog Charlie doesn't seem to be liking my dog Athena. Athena has not bit or hurt Charlie or showed any signs of aggression from either dog but for some reason Charlie keeps hiding in the corner and when we walk Charlie she refuses to come back in the house even if Athena isn't bothering her . Charlie is a 6 year old beagle mix and Athena is a 1 year old lab boxer pit mix. please help!!!

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Ja’ca

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Shepherd X

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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Hiding

We have have had Ja’ca shepherd cross for three 3 years (she if 5 we think and a rescue) she was dog reactive when outside but we have worked through this and is getting better, it was recommended we get another calmer dog to help with this, so we now have Trini a 3 year lab who is very calm, they get on but do not interact with play, they will sleep on the couch, ja’ca will sometimes try to play but she is a bit rough so Trini just lets her get on with it and ja’ca gets bored. Ja’ca lies under the bushes very occasionally but now is doing it all the time, she digs a hole and can spend a good couple of hours. Her appetite is fine and still enjoys her walks. Is she just hot or just needing her own space?

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Tifa

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Akita

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hiding

We just adopted a 5 month old lab a week ago,and currently have a 7 year old Long Coat Akita. They are getting along well, we are crate training and not letting the puppy have free reign of the house as he gets settled and not rampaging through the house. Tifa (akita) has taken to him but the last 2 days she has been lounging in the bedroom upstairs, I am guessing to get a break from Remington (puppy). Is this normal behavior? Remi is a good boy around her and she is good to him just curious if she is just needing her space? They haven't been interacting as far as playing because he gets rowdy and we don't want him jumping on her. She isn't initiating play when he runs to retrieve a toy, she just watches. So I guess my question is her going upstairs away from us,shes eating and acting normal otherwise. Thank you for your help. Dawn

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