Why Is My Dog Flinching All Of A Sudden

Why Is My Dog Flinching All Of A Sudden?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Flinching is an instinctive response to fear, surprise, or pain and is a quick and nervous movement of the face or body. Just as humans will flinch when they dream, your dog will do so as well. Flinching may occur when your dog feels pain or is startled.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Is My Dog Flinching All Of A Sudden?“.

The dog flinches away from your hand tail tucked between his legs fear in his eyes – what does this even mean? 

Why Is My Dog Flinching All Of A Sudden

Dogs may suddenly flinch for a variety of reasons without any connection to you or anything you have done. This can be caused by several reasons and we can see what we can do to help our dog get back to being his old confident self again.

What is Flinching? Why is My Dog Suddenly Flinching?

Dogs who are shy or sensitive frequently flinch as an instinctive reaction to fear. 

It could also be a reaction caused by a trauma that occurred to him as a puppy. 

A lot of abused dogs flinch when you raise your hand close to them but in this case the dog does it all the time. When your dog starts flinching all of a sudden if he has never displayed such behavior before you should seek out the cause elsewhere. An event that happened to the dog recently does not refer to a past trauma. 

Dogs might flinch unintentionally when you just want to pet them because of an injury an infection that causes pain vision or hearing problems seizures or an incident that you did not witness or know anything about.

Another possibility is that your dogs sudden reaction is perfectly natural and relates to his emotional development the so-called puppy fear periods.

What are the two puppy fear periods?

There are two fear periods for dogs according to experts. 

When the puppy is quite young around 8 to 11 weeks the first takes place and the second takes place in his teens which may be anywhere between 6 to 14 months.

The first puppy fear period

This period of puppy fear tends to overlap with the first time the puppy meets his/her new family. 

As they are weaned right around eight weeks of age puppies are starting to gain their independence from their mothers.  

As a result they explore more and socialize more during this period. In the process of becoming independent one also becomes aware of all the potential dangers.

Due to the dogs delicate emotional development at this point its best to wait until hes over it before relocating the pup. 

Traumatic events that take place during this period might leave a lasting impression on the dog for the rest of his life.

The second puppy fear period

You might have a young dog that is suddenly flinching because he has entered the second puppy fear period. 

By the time a dog is 12 months old he is usually all grown up and you see him like an adult dog. 

Its not true hes still a puppy learning about the world.

Its important to know that your dog will not act weird all the time during this fear period. This isnot an ongoing fear he is experiencing. 

Generally the dog will have some fear episodes every now and then and for no apparent reason.

A dog in this stage might suddenly be afraid of things he used to greet with a happy bark every day like the trash can or the neighbor down the street. 

Its impossible to know whats going on in his head.

Dogs around the age of 6 to 14 months or even 18 months in some cases may flinch because of this fear stage but they will usually outgrow it fairly soon.

How can pain make a dog flinch all of a sudden? Why Is My Dog Flinching All Of A Sudden?

Your dog may flinch from your gentle approach in a reaction that is comparable to a child who has experienced terrible abuse. 

Dogs are not afraid of people they simply do not want to be touched because they’re in pain. The cause of an infection or a wound can range from a strained muscle to a wound.

It is only natural that he would avoid you if his back hurts. 

Even if the dog gives you an angry look at this point he might actually be angry at you because you are the one in charge and you do not seem to be doing anything to help.

You can help him the most by taking him to the vet and having him examined. 

It is obvious you should not rush your dog to the vet the first time he does this sort of sudden flinch because it could be anything like an upset tummy that will disappear the next day.

You must take action if your dog flinches more frequently or every time you approach him. 

Check your dog from head to tail for injuries bites ticks or signs of infection if the dog allows it.

If your dog is suddenly flinching for external reasons that is easily treatable and he will be back to his usual happy-go-lucky self.

Loss of senses can make the dog flinch all of a sudden

Most of these pets are seniors with declining health and progressive deterioration of their senses. 

The dog does not understand this age thing just like he does not understand anything else about you. Its not your fault at all.

The objects appear dim or the contours fade when a dogs vision is affected by cataracts a common condition in older pets. 

The unfamiliar surroundings might scare him which is why he is scared when you approach him gently.

The same is true for those who have lost their hearing. 

Even when he was lying dozing off in a corner your dog could recognize the footsteps of every member of the family. 

Hes sure to be startled when you show up in front of him all of a sudden now that he can not hear that well. 

It makes him flinch. 

In his position you would do the same thing.

While the vet may be able to improve the dogs eyesight he cannot help him if he suffers from hearing loss. 

It will be necessary to learn to live with your pet if this is the case. 

In order to avoid scaring the dog try not to approach him when he isnot aware of your presence.

Sudden flinching caused by a traumatic experience

You need to start examining what recent events might have caused your dogs strange behavior when he starts behaving strangely without a physical reason.

You can rule out the possibility of the dog being kicked or abused in any way as long as the dog is always in your care. 

Alternatively if you have recently left your dog in a daycare or with a minder you barely know he might have been abused. 

Doggy daycare has experienced cases of dogs being kicked. 

So do not jump to conclusions and start making accusations you cannot prove but perhaps you should reconsider your options and make different arrangements for your beloved pet.

Nevertheless there are many other situations in which a dog may undergo trauma. Has your house recently been moved? 

Is there someone new living in your house a baby or a new partner? 

Has anyone left?

It can be stressful to move houses for humans but for dogs that find themselves in an unfamiliar place it can be even more stressful. 

Ensure your pet has his own sleeping quarters just as he used to unpack all of his favorite toys and give him time to adjust.

How to deal with a dog flinching all of a sudden

Its important to first determine if there is a physical problem causing this behavior. 

Injuries and infections will most likely heal on their own or if he has seizures he will be given medication to ease the symptoms. 

Once the underlying cause of the dogs flinching is dealt with the dog will stop doing it.

In contrast if its entirely in his mind you should show understanding and help the dog figure it out.

  • Donot worry if its about the second fear period. He will outgrow it in time.
  • The dog should not be forced to go near the object or person he appears to be afraid of.
  • Allow him to be himself even if it means cowering in his safe space.
  • When he feels comfortable let him get close to you or whatever scares him.
  • Consider socializing your dog more.
  • You can let him have fun at a dog park to relieve whatever stress he might be experiencing.
  • Seek the advice of a dog trainer or a canine behaviorist if nothing else works.

Anyhow you should not be upset with your dog if he flinches out of nowhere. Theres nothing you can do about it.


Whenever a dog suddenly flinches there is an explanation. 

Its possible that he is going through a phase of fear which is completely normal and will pass.

You should take your dog to the vet if theres a physical problem causing him to flinch such as pain or vision loss and in most cases the behavior will disappear once the underlying issue is resolved.

You can just wait until he gets it sorted out in his head if you can not think of any reason for his behavior.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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