Why is my dog suddenly hiding in the closet?

There are certain questions you'd definitely find yourself asking at one point or another as a dog owner. Some questions are not as bothering or disturbing as others, because some behaviors your dog exhibits are totally reasonable.

However, when you find yourself asking why suddenly your dog starts hiding in the closet, this might cause more worry to you than most.

So, why is my dog suddenly hiding in closet? The primary and most common reason for this behavior in your dog is fear. Fear plays a major role in your dog hiding in the closet. Other reasons include depression or that your dog is shy; it could also be that your dog finds the closet comfortable.

Let's face the fact, closet are awesome. They are warm, safe and quiet and particularly formed great hiding spaces for us when we were younger and playing hide and seek. With all these great qualities of a closet, it might be understandable why your dog would love this safe space, but it still keeps you wondering if there actually might be something more to this new found habit.

In this post, we'd be carefully going through the different reasons your dog might be hiding in your closet:

Read on below for an in-depth analysis. It’s imperative that you understand what drives this behavior as each conveys a different meaning, and understanding them could guide you when dealing with your dog.

dog hiding in safe, dark and silent place

1. Your dog is shy:

Dogs that are frightened of people and tend to hide away when someone they aren't familiar with approaches are usually described as cautious, nervous or shy.

You might notice that your dog hides away in the closet when someone enters the house, or maybe trembles or refuses to maintain eye contact. All these are makers that your dog isn't confident with strangers. You would want to desensitize your dog and help it rebuild its confidence around people.

Take note of the type of individuals your dog hides from, as this is a very important step to helping your dog get better. Is it just children?, women? , men?, does your dog only hides away from other dogs?.

It might even be that your dog only hides away from a particular person. If this is so, then you would want to pay a closer attention to the relationship this person has with your dog. Does this person do certain things with your dog that might perhaps scare it? What does the person do with your dog when you're not around?.

A good way to handle a shy dog is to retrain it to be more confident, one controlled step at a time. Don't try to rush it, for example, you might not want to take your dog to a crowded space as this might be too overwhelming especially if your dog is easily frightened by strangers.

You should also refrain strangers from touching and petting your dog. Reward every little progress your dog makes towards socializing with strangers as this would help to decrease the stress that interactions might cause your dog, since it knows it would be rewarded for it.

2. Your dog is trying to conceal its injury:

Most dogs don't like to show weakness or vulnerability and would rather prefer to hide in enclosed spaces when they are hurt or ill to prevent others from having to witness such moments, this behavior dates back to their primal instincts [1].

Your dog might be staying in the closet because it's trying to hide that it has been injured or ill and may be having a form of depression.

Hence you would want to examine your dog for other signs of injury or illness, such as excessive weight loss, limping, loss of appetite, licking a particular area of its body or crying or growling when you pat it.

If you find out that your dog is hurt or ill, then you might want to contact a veterinarian for a better examination.

3. Your dog is afraid:

One common emotion that triggers hiding in dogs is fear. When does your dog go hiding in the closet? What happens before it goes into hiding? Are there certain sounds, like fireworks or loud music from the speakers?. 

All these are reasons your dog might scamper to your closet for safety. Other signs of fear in dogs includes, shaking visibly, panting profusely, enlarged pupils and growling intensely.

When you notice, any or some of these signs in your dog then it could be that your dog might be hiding out of fear. Your role as its owner would be to identify the exact reason behind its fear, and to help it see that there is in fact nothing to worry about.

4. Your dog finds the closet comfy:

Dogs are most comfortable in whatever space seems safest, and nothing is as safe as knowing nothing and no one can sneak up on you to attack. Your dog might be hiding in your closet because it feels secure, surrounded by the three solid walls of your closet and knowing that the only point of attack or assault can only come from ahead.

In this case, there might be no need to discontinue the behavior except you absolutely do not like the idea, for example, if your dog soils your closet, or if you're just not comfortable with the habit. So, take note, your dog might just be in your closet because it's the coolest spot in the house.

5. You rewarded the behavior:

If there is one thing you must pay attention to as a dog owner, it's knowing what your dog was doing prior to the point you wish to give it a gift, a toy or even a kiss.

Dogs are sensitive to how they are treated, and have an excellent memory. They would always want to continue doing things that gets them treats. It could be that you have been giving your dog gifts whenever it goes into the closet, in which case you have unintentionally positively reinforced the attitude. You would want to correct that by only giving your dog treats when it doesn't go into hiding.

Other things to consider

Many believe that dogs who constantly go into hiding most likely have been abused in the past. You would likely notice signs of insecurity and fear in dogs that have been victims of mistreatment in the past. Although, this isn't always the case but might be something to consider when trying to find out why your dog is hiding in the closet.

Your dog might just be hiding because it's not familiar with the environment and is feeling insecure, and the closet just feels safer than most. This is common among puppies and dogs recently introduced to a new home. In this case, time and constant show of care is your best bet in making your dog build trust and confidence in your presence and in your home.

Additional Resources

Every relationship requires the same recipe to flourish and blossom, whether it's with humans or with another specie. Forming an intimate bond with your dog doesn't come in a day. It requires efforts and consistency, but is important if you'd want to easily decode why your dog does what it does per time. Certain things are basic in building a strong bond with your dog, such as spending quality time with it, and training your dog is a brilliant way to do this.

BrainTraining4Dogs by America's top professional dog trainer can help you self-train your dog to promote better bonding time and as well unlock hidden intelligence. Socializing is one of your dog's basic and vital need, and what better way to do this than by training your dog yourself.

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