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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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Hiding Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Mylo
Yorkshire Terrier
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

My 5 and a half year old yorkie poo is behaving normally eating and going to bathroom. Just in the past couple of weeks he has started going and hiding in the bathroom off of our bedroom. I first noticed during a thunderstorm that he had gone there. Last night while I was working my husband said that he went to go sleep on the bathmat again. Is this something I should be concerned about or trying to get on top of before it gets out of control? And is there a reason why he may be starting to do this more often?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
It may be a sign of anxiety and Mylo feels comfortable in your ensuite bathroom; this may be due to a fear of a noise (dogs can hear better than us), a person or another cause. It would be good to try to find a possible trigger for this behaviour so that you can address it with Mylo or remove it from the environment. I don’t think this is a medical issue, but if no other cause can be determined you should check in with your Veterinarian to rule out medical causes (pain etc…). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Karma
Siberian Husky
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

Hi! My female husky has been acting really weird for the past 8 days. She's been digging holes in bushes and hiding, I've tried to get toys, treats, leads and food to get her out but she is very stubborn to leave. She wags her tail when I go to her and talk to her but as soon as I go to grab her she starts to growl and shake. This is very usual. She's been with me since 18weeks old and has had no behaviour issues apart from this. Once she's in my room for bed time she is completely normal again until I leave and she starts to cry. She is normally completely fine being left alone with my other dog and she has shown no unnornal behaviour signs towards my other dog. She hasn't been eating as much, and she's not as energetic. It's been storming alot would this have scared her to hide? Any advice is much appreciated thankyou!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. The weather may be increasing Karma's anxiety, it is possible. If she isn't spayed, that may be a component of the behavior, or she may have underlying pain or discomfort that is bothering her. It would be best to get control over the behavior before it becomes an issue, however. The first thing that I would do would be to have a good examination by your veterinarian to rule out any medical or hormonal problems. If she is healthy, a good trainer will be able to work with her and determine what might be going on, and how to resolve it. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a good trainer in your area for you. I hope that all goes well for her!

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Maja
hybrid
11 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

Hi, my 11 years old dog always was patient about hiding, bu suddenly she started to go out every 10 min 5 - 6 in rotation, also she does it at home, small bogs... It seems that she have some trouble of pathways (I am not sure is that correct word :) ) Should I have to visit her to veterinary? Some weeks before, she had a cancer in her ear and it was removed.. Can it be common?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
I am sorry, but I am unsure about the nature of your question, but if Maja recently had surgery to remove cancer from her ear you should return to your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Champ
Chihuahua
5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

my dog has been hiding behind a chair in a corner a lot lately. he use to do it when I start cooking with I figured was normal because once i'm done he will come back to me. He also stopped wanted to play fetch and play with his tools. Also, if I am in the bathroom he will follow me and not leave my side until I get out. if we are on the bed he stays with me and when I get up and leave the bed he hides behind his chair. He used to greet me at the door when I got home and now he hides around the corner until he realizes it is me that is coming in. Do you have any idea what is going on with him?

as far as eating and using the restroom it is completing normal as its always been for him.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Champ sounds like he is a little more anxious than normal, and without seeing him, I really don't have any way to see why that may be happening. The best course of action may be to have him examined by your veterinarian to make sure that he is okay physically, and to see if he might benefit from anti anxiety medications or other treatment to help him be less scared and stop hiding.

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Alexis
Cockapoo
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Knee left rear leg

Medication Used

Tramadol

Dog sprained her left rear leg and is trembling , I checked her gums and tongue looks normal also my vet recommended for her to take Tramadol for pain , how long for my cockapoo Alexis to heal ? She’s eating but hiding

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Without knowing more about Alexis's strain, location, and severity, I have a hard time commenting on how long it will take for her to heal. Since your veteirnarian has examined her and knows more specifics on her condition, that would be a gret question to ask them - you can call them and get more details on what the expectations are for her recovery.

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Allie
Fox Terrier mix
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Whines, has been itching and scratc

Our 14 year old Fox terrier mix has been acting strangely lately...but still eating and peeing and pooping normally. Today and last night she went under our bed and now will not come. She whines a lot . food , treats, walk and coaxing do not matter. My husband has had back surgery and cannot pull her out. What should we do?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
It is difficult to determine what the possible cause may be for this behaviour, it is either a behavioural issue or a medical issue (if she is in pain for example); you should have your examined by your Veterinarian to determine if there is a medical issues or not, it is good that the eating, drinking, urinating and defecating is normal but there may be other underlying issues. Try to get her to your Veterinarian as I cannot say what the cause is without examining her. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Chase
Greyhound
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of Appetite

My dog chase is almost one. Recently he got out of the yard and came home and is sick upon waking up the next day. Chase is throwing up yellow mucus in the house so we let him out and he went under our mobile home and won't come to me. I located him in three different spots but he won't come out so I left him be thinking he was just resting cause he goes under to get away from sun etc. But now it seems like he doesn't want to be seen and I'm worried he may be suffering from clogged intestines possibly? He drank a small amount before going outside but hasn't returned to his bowls. He's been under the house for about ten hours now should I try and go get him or leave him to rest?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
The problem is that we don’t know if Chase ate something he shouldn’t (dead animal, foreign object or poison); it is possible that he has stomach pain from something which is causing him to vomit and to lose his appetite. When a dog feels sick or is in pain, they may hide for comfort; without examining him I cannot say what the specific cause may be. Try to coax him out and visit your Veterinarian if he is still not himself. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Peppers
Staffy x Labrodor
9 Weeks
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding
Unsettled

Hi my 9 week old puppy stayed over at my
Parents house for the night and he’s come back unsettled. He’s whimpering and walking around the house and finding places to hide. For the past couple of weeks he hasn’t been this way. Is my worry warranted or is it something that he will get out of?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If you are sure that nothing happened to Pepper while he was at your parents, he may just be nervous from the change in environment. He is a baby, and may not understand being in different locations with different people. If he does not start acting normally over the next few hours, it might be a good idea to have him examined to make sure that he isn't painful or having problems. I hope that he is okay.

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Ojitos
Chihuahua
7 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

My dog has been acting a bit strange. 2 days ago she was yelping in pain and would not let anyone touch her. Later in the day she finally popped and peed. I assumed she was constipated and thought nothing else was wrong. She went back to playing and no yelping when picked up. Today she’s hiding under my drawer. She goes a little while in her bed, then hides again. I don’t know if she’s in pain or she just wants to be alone. Please help

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1397 Recommendations
It sounds to me like Ojitos is painful, and some back or joint pain can get better then worse. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as sometimes these conditions will get worse without treatment, and it is painful for her to have this happening. I hope that all goes well for her.

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Jazz
Maltese
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding and wanting to be close

My Maltese dog Jazz has started hiding, under beds, wardrobe, any small place she can find. Even found her between toilet and bath the other day.
I have been away and my ex husband and dog sitter between them have looked after her and her grandmother who I also have. Jazz is 4 and half and Jewels is 8.
My ex did take them last month to his place so I'm wondering if something may have happen there? They have a lot of parties so lots of drinking? I have asked him but got told they are both fine?
Jewels has always been a dog who wants you close by but she has changed also. She now sleeps so close to me that if I move during the night I have to move her also.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
It is possible that some event caused a change in behaviour and in a lively household of parties and drinking anything may have occurred with anyone who visited; I really cannot give you any insight here unfortunately. You should keep trying to reassure both Jewels and Jazz but this would be most likely all behavioural with no medical issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Copper
Dachshund
5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

My dachshund is 5 years old and has begun to hide often. He mostly stays under my bed and won't come out for anything, food water walks or treats. I have started locking him out of my room but he finds other places to hide such as behingd the couch or in another dog's crate. Other behavior traits have also changed as he has become less aggressive as well since the hiding began. He is in good health minus a flea allergy. He eats meat based dog food and has access to both inside and outside. Is this normal or do I have cause to worry?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
Generally this behaviour is normally due to a behavioural issue which may be down to fear, anxiety, abuse (from another dog) among other behavioural issues; there may also be a medical cause behind the hiding which may include traumatic injury, pain, internal disease among other conditions. Without examining Copper it is not possible to rule out medical causes for this behaviour, but I would recommend a visit to your Veterinarian to rule them out. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Sydney
pitbull
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

My 4 year old pit bull lab who is a sweetheart and rescue from the pound I have had since she was8 weeks old. She has always been spoiled rotten and is a retired service dog. Recently she has been hiding downstairs away from our other two dogs she always loves to play with and has always gotten along with. She will be laying on her bed upstairs with us then randomly get up unprovoked and go downstairs to the couch to sleep alone.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
There are various different issues which may be causing this behaviour which may include behavioural issues, but may also include pain or other medical reasons; without examining Sydney I cannot say what the specific cause is or whether the cause is purely behavioural or caused by an underlying medical condition. I would recommend having Sydney checked by your Veterinarian to rule out medical causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Lily
Miniature Schnauzer
11 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

hiding and shivering

My dog is shivering excessively (more so then usually as she is a small schnauzer) and lately has been hiding in odd places when usually she stays in the living room where the family is. Is this cause for concern? From what i know of, there is no reason for her to be stressed or depressed. But i did read that shivering and hiding could be caused by pain, but she hasn’t been whimpering. Please help! Thanks

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
Hiding and shivering may be caused by behavioural issues (fear and anxiety) or medical (pain etc…); without examining Lily I cannot determine whether there is a cause for concern or not. You should look to see if there are any triggers for this behaviour like noises, people or objects; but you should visit your Veterinarian to ensure that this isn’t due to a medical issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Roscoe- brother is yadi
Shih Tzu
8 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Avoidance

I have a shitzu, his brother lives next door and we share dog sitting when going out of town etc.. my dog now avoids his brother and hides upstairs and will not interact with him at all. The only thing I can think is a problem is his brother often poops in the house and they have gotten in trouble bc I wasn't sure which one did it. They have been seeing each other since birth at least once a week.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
Behavioural issues are never easy, it is possible that Roscoe and Yadi had a fight or some disagreement and now Roscoe is hiding from Yadi; it is difficult to determine on what the cause may be, it is also important to see how does Roscoe behave in your neighbour's house and if the hiding behaviour is the same. I cannot give you any advice apart from trying to get them to meet outside together to see if they are friends and then to take them both in the house together to see if the motion of entering together helps Roscoe. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Ober
Boxer Mix
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Distrust
Hiding

I adopted Obee from the pound on 1/20/2018, he was underweight and very unergetic. He's now eating fine and a bit more animated. When I put him outside to go to work, he goes and hides under bushes in my backyard. I assume he stays there the whole day, when I get home he's still hiding. However, it's dark, and I don't want to leave him outside over night. He wags his tail when I talk to him, but he will not voluntarily leave his hiding spot. Should I leave him be? Should I use a leash to get him out? (He wears his dog walking best the whole day for this reason). I know with time he'll get better, but is there a way that I can make this transition for him easier/faster?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
Behavioural issues can be difficult to resolve and since we don’t know much or anything about Ober’s history before he lived with you we cannot relate this behaviour to any previous bad experience. You should try encouraging him out and when he comes out make a big fuss of him, praising him for leaving his hiding spot; alternatively you could crate him instead of letting him out all day but this may not be good long term and may cause him distress. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bryken
Cross Boarder Collie/ Rough Collie
13 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Hiding

My 13 year old dog 🐶 has recently gone completely deaf (about 2-3 months ago). His behaviour is roughly the same as it was before and he’s still humping his bed 🛏 every night after dinner lol. He’s slowly making the transition, for example, He can still hear loud claps (and to him, that means to come to us) and it doesn’t seem like he has any depression at all. The one weird thing we’ve noticed for about 1 month is that every time we’re getting his dinner ready he goes and hides, like he’s scared of his dinner. So whenever he knows dinner is coming, we’d instantly see him going to hide behind the bed or walking head first behind blinds and staying put there. To get him to eat (once his bowl of food is ready), we have to take the bowl of food to him and show him, then he follows us to where he normally eats his dinner. And he starts eating it without any hesitation.

I’ve thought about depression from deafness, but that doesn’t make sense, cause he still is normal in every other way and enjoys his dinner and LOVES food. Always giving us the “sad puppy eyes” whenever we’re eating.

More of a description about him becoming deaf. He had a vestibular attack and became deaf overnight.

I’m just so confused 🤷‍♂️ as to why he suddenly hides every time he knows his dinner is being prepared or coming soon.

He also hides during loud thunder storms 🌩 but that’s normal, he’s done that ever since we got him.

Why does he look to hide somewhere right before his dinner?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2973 Recommendations
Sometimes a behavioural issue will make no sense to anyone except the dog which is exhibiting the behaviour and he may have a valid reason for being scared especially if he now being deaf; something may have occurred during food preparation which hurt or scared him and he is now hiding to protect himself. I cannot say what the specific cause is or whether there is a medical component but you should keep a close eye on other behaviour and look for patterns. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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