Tips & Tricks

9 Common Things That Actually Scare Your Pets

doodle barking dog woof brown dog

As caring pet parents, we go to great lengths to make sure our furry friends are living their best lives. From treats and belly rubs to daily walks and playtime, we want them to be as happy and comfortable as possible.

However, even in our cozy homes, there might be things that scare them – things that seem totally normal to us!

Sure, loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms are obvious stress-inducers. But there are other, more sneaky triggers that can fly under the radar for pet owners.

From unexpected changes in routine to everyday objects, let’s explore 9 common things that might be secretly freaking out your furry friend.

1. Changes in Routine

Our pets thrive on routine and familiarity. Even minor changes like having a house guest, going on vacation, or hosting a party can disrupt their sense of normalcy and cause stress. When their daily rhythms are thrown off, pets may exhibit negative behavioral changes like excessive barking, hiding, or even destructive tendencies.

To minimize this, gradually introduce changes in routine whenever possible. Ensure your furry companion has a safe space or room to retreat to when things feel unsettled. This will help them feel more at ease during transitional periods.

high angle dogs making mess with paper rolls

2. Moving Furniture

Has this ever happened to you? You get a little bored with the living room layout, so you decide to move the couch or rearrange some furniture. While it may seem like a harmless interior design refresh to you, the sudden change can be incredibly stressful for your pet.

Any time furniture or decor is moved around, it can disorient and frighten animals who have grown accustomed to their environment. If possible, try to make these changes gradually, allowing your pet time to adjust to the new setup. The same goes for introducing new items like fans or smart home devices that make unfamiliar noises.

adorable cute little french bulldog

3. Noisy Appliances

Think about how grating the sound of a blender or vacuum can be to our human ears. Now imagine how much more intense and distressing those loud, high-pitched noises must be for our pets with their heightened senses of hearing.

Household appliances like blenders, vacuums, and even hair dryers can put pets on high alert, causing them to become fearful or anxious. The strange smell these appliances emit can also contribute to their unease.

So, be mindful of running loud machines around your furry friends, and consider providing them with a quiet, secure space to retreat to during operation.

dog enrichment matters

4. Children

While it’s understandable for pets to be wary of unfamiliar adult strangers, some animals also experience stress and fear around children they don’t know. This boils down to the personality of the individual pet, but children’s unpredictable, inhibited behaviour when approaching an animal can come across as aggressive or threatening.

It’s crucial to teach children how to safely and calmly interact with pets from an early age. With proper education and supervision, you can help prevent potentially dangerous encounters that could frighten or provoke your furry friend.

photo of a child playing with a black and brown dog

5. Insects

Just like some humans have a deep-seated fear of creepy crawlies, many pets also experience insect phobias. The buzzing sounds flies and bees make can startle and scare our furry companions, causing them to jump, bite in the air, or even attack their own bodies out of fright.

If your pet has had a traumatic run-in with an insect in the past, like getting stung by a bee or bitten by a fly, they may be especially triggered by bugs in the future.

Consider using pet-safe insect repellents, especially when spending time outdoors with your insect-anxious animal. This can help keep pesky bugs at bay and your pet feeling calmer.

large dog depression

6. Loud Voices

While we love cheerfully greeting our pets with excited voices and affection, these sudden, loud exclamations can actually frighten some animals. Depending on their personality and past experiences, some pets have an aversion to loud yelling or cheering, even when the tone isn’t angry.

So as much as you may want to enthusiastically root for your favorite sports team or joyfully welcome guests into your home, remember that those raised voices could be scaring your furry friend. Try to keep volumes down around sensitive pets to avoid unnecessary anxiety.

close up happy woman patting her dog garden

7. Unfamiliar Objects

You’ve probably seen those viral videos of cats leaping into the air or darting away at the mere sight of a household cucumber. While it may seem like an over-the-top reaction, this fear stems from the sudden appearance of an unfamiliar object in their environment.

Cucumbers (and other random, stationary items) are not common fixtures in a cat’s world. So when one randomly shows up, their instincts tell them to be cautious and afraid of this potential threat.

The same principle applies to pets who feel anxious around new objects introduced to their territory without any context or slow adjustment period.

dog making mass with plant pot indoors

8. Car Rides

For some pets, the idea of a car ride is anything but exciting. The lack of control, unfamiliar sights and smells, and the jostling sensation of being on the road can lead to anxiety, stress, and even carsickness for our animal companions.

If your pet gets noticeably distressed during car travel, consider making the vehicle a more positive space by using calming pheromones or anxiety wraps. Taking pets on short, rewarding car rides and associating the car with treats can also help reduce fear over time.

cute dog laying trunk

9. Bath Time

While getting pampered may be a beloved self-care ritual for us humans, not all of our pets feel that same joy when it comes to bath time. For many animals, the feeling of being restrained, lathered in suds, and drenched can be an incredibly stressful experience that induces fear and anxiety.

Go slowly when introducing your pet to baths, using positive reinforcement and treating throughout the process. You may also want to invest in accessories like non-slip feeding mats and low-stress grooming tools to make the experience feel safer and less taxing for your clean-averse companion.



1. What are the signs that my pet is scared or anxious?

Common signs of fear or anxiety in pets include crouched posture, trembling, arched back, pinned back ears, excessive panting or drooling, dilated pupils, or aggressive behaviors like growling or biting.

2. How can I ease my pet’s anxiety around loud noises?

Desensitization and counter-conditioning with positive reinforcement can help. Gradually expose your pet to recorded versions of the scary noise at low volumes while offering high-value treats and praise. You can also use pheromone diffusers, anxiety vests/wraps, or consider medications in extreme cases.

3. How can I make car rides less stressful for my pet?

Get your pet accustomed to the car through positive reinforcement. Use calming pheromones, secure crates/carriers, and offer plenty of breaks and rewarding treats to build positive associations with car travel over time.

Final Words

Every dog (and cat!) is a unique individual with their own personalities, preferences, and peccadilloes. What may cause one pup to simply cock their head in curiosity could send another spiraling into a state of outright panic.

As pet parents, it’s up to us to really pay attention to our furry friend’s body language and behavior cues. If your typically relaxed retriever starts trembling like a tiny teacup poodle at the sound of the blender, or your unflappable feline is suddenly arching her back at that new floor lamp, don’t just brush it off.

dog and cat look at each other

Take the time to identify and understand their specific triggers. Then, make adjustments in their environment or your routines to provide safe spaces and opportunities for them to decompress.

With patience, preparation, and some positive reinforcement training, even the most anxious of animals can learn to feel more comfortable and secure when faced with those common fear inducers.


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.