Fear in dogs can be misdiagnosed. Fear can come from a variety of reasons:
1) genetically: dog has a family history of fear
2) fear from circumstance : something in the past has attributed to the fear. ie- dog gets bitten by a another dog and now has developed a fear of dogs.
3) fear based on socialization: a dog that has not been desensitized to people , dogs , objects etc. ie a dog that has never seen a skateboard may shy away or run when a skateboard rolls by.
Reactions to fear :
Dogs react to the different fear types in many different ways
1) scared: probably the most obvious reaction. Dogs will run away from an object or person(s), creating distance from themselves am the object of their fear.
2) lake of motion: another obvious reaction is freezing. The dog will express their fear my standing still ( motionless)
3) fidgeting: this one is less obvious but just as common. Dogs will start expressing their fear through sniffing, eating, digging or scratching.
4) AGGRESSION: this is the fear that is expressed by showing digns of aggression. How works is the dog will bark aggressively or snarl to create distance between themselves and the fear provoking stimulus. (objects people other dogs). Remember that there is an underlying reason for every reaction a dog has. Not every barking or aggressive dog is exhibiting a fear response. That why this particular problem is tough to diagnose.
How to treat:
Treating fear is a slow process. When treating fear some great suggestions are exercise. Physically stimulating your dog helps to release those endorphins and help bring them calm . Also mental stimulation always comes into play. This is why I always tell people to train their dog in basic obedience training. When your dog knows the basics it helps with redirecting and distracting them from uncomfortable stimuli. Remember that fear should be treated with positive reinforcement training. Do not use adversives or dominance training for this since their is a probably that their fear will only be exacerbated.
Fear is complicated! Like all my training advice, this will take a lot of time and patience. I will use specific examples of real life fear situations all this week to explain step by step process of treating fear.