Why is My Dog Freaking Out All of a Sudden? 

By Britt Kascjak

Is your normally calm dog suddenly freaking out and you’re unsure of why? This behavior may be more explainable than you think.

Unable to speak to us and tell us what is bothering them, dogs use body language.

In more serious cases, or if your dog believes that you’re not getting the message, this could escalate. Standard body language suddenly comes across like your dog is losing his mind.

If you notice your dog freaking out, take a moment to identify the cause.

Fear of Loud Noises

Dogs that are afraid of loud noises can become incredibly anxious during storms or fireworks.

If these sounds come on suddenly with no warning, it can catch your dog off-guard. This introduces even higher levels of anxiety.

A few options to help reduce your dog’s anxiety during a storm include:

  • Using a ThunderShirt
  • Turning on the radio or television to drown out the sound
  • Calming treats and supplements
  • Gradual desensitization exercises

Strange People or Places

Another fear-based freak-out is a fear of new people or places. These are dogs that aren’t comfortable with the unknown.

The best way to approach this fear is to spend some time socializing your dog in a variety of settings.

Take your dog to the park, bring him along shopping, or sit out in a parking lot to allow him to see and hear people.

Start socializing your dog early to help him learn to adapt to new stimuli. The earlier you get started, the more comfortable he will be in new situations.

Offer plenty of praise and rewards anytime that your dog is calm. This will reinforce good behavior.

Age-Related Anxiety

As dogs enter into their golden years, they may experience age-related anxiety.

This is largely due to the mental decline that many dogs will experience. Dementia may leave your dog feeling confused or unsure.

Confusion can lead to fear and anxiety even in spaces that were once familiar.

Try to be patient, it’s not his fault. This is an unfortunate part of aging and your dog needs your comfort now more than ever.


If your dog has recently suffered an injury and is experiencing pain, the freak-out may be his way of alerting you.

Look him over carefully for signs that he could have been hurt.

This includes more than just visible cuts and scrapes. Check for limps or areas that are sensitive to the touch.

He may also be licking or biting at an area of his body excessively, indicating that there is a problem.

Any sign of pain or injury should be examined by a veterinarian.

Toxic Poisoning

Another medical explanation could be poisoning. If your dog has ingested something that he shouldn’t, he may be experiencing the side effects.

This includes shaking, fear, and anxiety.

Other signs of toxic poisoning include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

If you see any of these signs, contact your veterinarian and explain your concerns.

Extreme Excitement aka The “Zoomies”

Unlike the other explanations on this list, the “zoomies” aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

This occurs when a dog, especially puppies, has pent-up energy that needs to be released. The energy boils to a head at which point the dog runs about frantically for a short time.

Your puppy is happy and healthy at this moment, so there is no need to worry. But, pay attention to potential hazards he could run into.

If this is a frequent occurrence, it may be a sign that he needs more daily exercise.

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.