Are dogs evolving?

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Table of Contents

Fear is not a strange word to most species. Just like a taskmaster, it holds its prey captive till they are willing to break free. There are different things that can make a person scared, from trying a new thing that has never been done, walking through a lonely alleyway, hearing weird sounds in the dark. All these are only a few things that cause fear; there are many other things that can cause fear. When fear is talked about, the first, and most times, the only thing that comes to mind is humans. We forget that animals, too, can be scared. Despite their inability to vocalize feelings, there are different actions through which they express themselves. Dogs are no different in this department. Actually, dogs are more expressive than other animals because of the high emotional intelligence they have.

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Unlike humans that release screams or high pitched screams when scared, dogs make a high pitched sound, known as yelping. This high-pitched cry that is very similar to screaming is what dogs do to express their discomfort due to fear or anxiety. Just like you scream when you wake up from a nightmare, it is not something weird. This yelping sound is mostly found in puppies as they are really tiny and might get scared or anxious easily. Not to say that it doesn’t happen in adult dogs, it does, but its occurrence in them is actually smaller when in comparison to puppies. “Do dogs yelp when scared?” Well, the answer is yes; they yelp when they are scared. Yelping is part of the numerous ways they express themselves when they are scared and anxious. That is to say; they express fears in other ways; it is not just limited to yelping.

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Do dogs yelp when scared?

How Do You Know When A Dog Is Scared?

As said earlier, dogs are no strangers to fear. They feel fear as much as we do. Although, since they do not have a high level of intelligence, they cannot express their fear in words. They, however, use signs and other ways to convey what they feel to their owner. One of those numerous ways is by changing their body language. Most times, body language even speaks more voluminously when compared to sounds. Like when they are happy, dogs show it by wagging their tail and bringing out their tongue. When they are angry or really uncomfortable with the presence of a person, you might see them bare their teeth. Those are only a few of the things they do to convey what they feel. The body language they convey to their owner during the period they feel extremely scared is quite different from the one they express when they are angry or when they are uncomfortable.    

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One of the profound signs through body language that a dog might use to show that it is scared is flattening its ears. When you see that a dog is flattening its ears when something is occurring, it might be a sign that that dog is very scared. Another sign is cowering to hide from everyone. Cowering during fear is found literally in all species, including dogs. It is very similar to hiding from your fears. They hide from the object, person, or situation that is making them uncomfortable. When this is seen, it should be known that the dog is scared. Yawning and lip licking also shows that the animal is scared; unlike in humans that it exhibits tiredness. Another body language is tucking the tail behind its hind legs, somewhat like covering their genitals with their tail. Scratching often is also a sign, even when the dog did not previously scratch. It would avoid meeting the eyes of its owner, a behavior that is also found in humans. Ever watch a cartoon, and see the hair of the dog spiked when something scary happens? It is similar to reality. When dogs are scared, a bodily response to the fear they feel is the hair at the back of their neck standing. 

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There are other ways they express their fear that are not connected to body language. They show their fear through behaviours like; barking. Dogs are very vocal animals; though they cannot talk, they convey their thoughts through the sounds they make. Dogs bark a; lot when they are scared. Another obvious behavior is whining, growling, and snapping. They might even bite when they feel extreme fear. Even if they don’t bite, they might show other signs of aggression like; snapping and destructiveness. Panting, drooling, and trembling are not left out. Some dogs might even be clingier than usual to their owners during the period that they feel scared. In extreme cases, it leads to unexpected urination or release of extremely loose stool.

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What Does It Mean When A Dog Yelps?

As said earlier, even if there is no way for dogs to convey their feelings through words, there are other signs through which they convey it. One of the signs is yelping. Yelping is a high-pitched cry, somewhat similar to a human scream, although a few octaves higher. There is no specific reason that would make a dog yelp; that is, there are several reasons that might make a dog yelp. One of these reasons is fear. When a dog is faced with a situation that makes it scared, it might yelp to show its discomfort. Let us say a new face is in the house, and your dog is usually a scared one; it might feel discomfort, anxiety, or fear that might make it yelp in fear. Another thing that might make it yelp is a situation where a loud unexpected sound disrupts the peace and quiet of the environment. This is very common if the environment is usually a quiet one. That sudden noise causes fear and anxiety in the dog because it cannot understand what is going on. It wonders what is causing the noise; it doesn’t have the intellect to understand what is going on at that point. It is detrimental to the dog if it is outside at the time that the loud noise is going on. 

Loud noises like fireworks, firecrackers, and vacuum cleaners can cause this reaction in dogs. Their yelping is not limited to noisy equipment or the environment; it can also be caused by other factors. A dog might also yelp when it is surprised at the suddenness of an occurrence. If a dog yelps, it might mean you accidentally stepped on it, perhaps on one of its paws. It is important to check to determine if any harm was done by the impact of your leg. A dog might yelp when it is in pain generally. If you try touching the part that causes the pain, that is when you will notice the dog yelping.

Why Does My Dog Yelp For No Reason?

Nothing happens in life without reason; there is always a reason for everything done by living things, except it’s an accident. Yelping is not classified as an accident; this means it happens for a good reason. If you did not touch your dog and it starts yelping “for no reason,” you should know that it is probably excited to see you or just excited. Excitement can cause yelping in dogs. If excitement is the case, it would probably be accompanied by wagging your tail, panting, and licking you. If this is seen, then you should know that the dog is probably really excited, either because of your presence or because of what you are holding in your hand. Your dog might start yelping out of the blue because it is anxious. 

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Anxiety, just as it is found in humans, is present in animals too. There are different ways dogs show anxiety, and one of the ways is by yelping. A loud blender might cause anxiety in your dog and cause it to yelp in response to this situation. There are other things that can cause a dog to be anxious, like bringing a new dog over to the house for it to play with. A dog’s anxiety does not mean it would yelp all the time; it wouldn’t. It might show other signs like barking to show it is anxious. 

Fear could also cause yelping in dogs. Maybe they are scared because they have been separated from their owner for a while. That is, separation fear and anxiety can cause yelping in dogs. Pain is one of the major causes of yelping in dogs. A dog would not be able to make similar sounds to humans when they are in pain. One of the main sounds they make when they are scared is yelping. This is to say that a dog would not yelp for absolutely no reason. There is a reason for its yelping, which can either be good or bad.

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What Causes A Dog To Yelp In Pain?

As said before, the major cause of yelping in dogs is due to pain. There are many things that can cause a dog to yelp in pain—most of which are physical pain. A common cause of yelping in dogs is infection. Infections in animals are something that is inevitable, either because of playing or even because of the hygiene level of the animals. Infections are caused by pathogens that destroy the tissues in the area they are found in. Destruction of these tissues causes great pain for the organism having the infection. 

In dogs, the most common type of infection is an ear infection. The ear infection is not specific as it can happen to the inner ear, outer ear or even, middle ear. This causes pain in the infected area, especially when it is touched. When a dog has an infection in the ear, and you try scratching it, it would yelp in response because of the pain it feels as it was touched there. No matter the location of the infection, it doesn’t matter; as long as that area is touched, they will yelp to show their discomfort. Another reason that can cause yelping out of pain is; joint and muscle pain. Joint pain most times comes as a result of the dislocation of a bone in the limbs. When the limbs that are dislocated are touched, they will yelp to show that they are hurt. Muscle pain is most commonly sprain. Muscle sprain causes extreme pain in the muscle that could cause a dog to yelp when that area is touched. Another thing that could make a dog yelp in pain is when a dog is anticipating pain. When a dog is in pain, and it feels you are about to touch that area, it might yelp. Another thing causing pain in dogs that might make them yelp is neck and back pain. This could also be because of strain and could be really painful.

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Why Does My Dog Yelp When I Touch Him?

If you have not touched your dog, and it is already yelping, it means that it already knows that you would touch it there, so it is reacting in anticipation of the pain. Also, if you have not touched it much and it has already started yelping, you should know that it has an injury, and it feels like you would cause more pain to it by touching the injury. Any part you touch and a dog yelps, you should know that it is in pain. It is important to examine it for infections or injuries of any sort. If the yelp comes when you scratch it under its ears, you should know that the dog probably has an infection inside its ears that is causing it pain. If you touch its limbs and it yelps, or you could see it limp, from that, it would be easy for you to deduce that it has a problem with its joints. If the pain yelp is due to the surface touch of the limbs, it could be because of the sprain. In all, a dog would yelp when you touch it, only when it is in pain. This is the reason it is important to take it to the vet when you notice it yelping because it is going through pain. 

Why Does My Dog Scream?

When your dog screams, there is always a good reason why. It can be anything harmless, like when they’re overexcited, wanting attention, being bored, having a nightmare, or seeing a new face. But then, it could also be when they’re afraid, sick, anxious, or it could be a bad health condition called syringomyelia (SM), canine cognitive dysfunction, etc.

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One of the most important reasons why your dog is screaming might be because it is sick. The signs could be weakness, lethargy, wheezing, constant panting, discharge from the nose, lack of appetite, and constant salivation.

When a dog screams, it may be due to the fact that it is sick. This means they might be going through pain we do not know. 

Another reason is that your dog might be experiencing anxiety. This could be due to a change in their environment, especially in situations where there’s a stranger in the dog’s territory.

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Most dogs suffer from separation anxiety. For dogs who have this, they have a panic attack immediately after they’re separated from their guardian or caretaker. They scream or react in many other ways, like scratching the furniture, doors and chewing excessively.

What Objects are Dogs Afraid of?

Fear of objects is something that is common among dogs, not something you should be worried about, neither is it something you should overlook. There is a range of objects a dog might be scared of, all of which are loud and cause a distortion of the peace and quiet. One of the noisiest of the objects that cause this fear is the vacuum cleaner. When a new dog is gotten, it might take a while for it to get used to the noise of the vacuum cleaner. Sometimes, even after a long time, it might not still get used to it. Another object that is quite scary is the blender. We all know how annoyingly loud some blenders can be. The loud and annoying nature of these blenders does not only annoy us, but it also affects dogs—even more. Dogs like toys, but this is not applicable to all dogs because some dogs are scared of toys. Generally, dogs are scared of anything extremely loud.

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Scared Dog Behavior 

There are some behaviors a dog exhibits when it is scared. Since they cannot express themselves with words, they exhibit their fear with these behaviors. If they are scared, they might submissively urinate or even stool. In some cases, they growl when they are scared, probably to scare away the approaching person or animal. They also snap and bark as usual—as it is their normal language. 


It can confidently be said that even dogs get really scared. However, they have a very distinct way of exhibiting their fear, somewhat different from other species. They release a yelping sound when they are scared alongside other signs. This yelping sound is high-pitched, similar to a cry for help. Although, yelping is not limited to pain and can be made when they are excited. Still, it mostly happens when scared or in pain. 

Hazel Buckley
Hazel Buckley

About Hazel Buckley
Hazel is an animal enthusiast and educator who grew up on a farm which her parents owned in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The farm was situated right under the Majuba Mountains - the site where the Anglo-Boer War was fought. 

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