I don't know why but my dog is backing away from me like she's scared. I've never done anything to hurt her and she was acting normal just hours ago.

She's 12 years old and it's night time, could she just not realise it's me since it is dark?

If someone has any idea what's happening please tell me. I'm really worried and want to get her medical attention right away if she needs it.

  • 6
    As the dog is quite old and it is a new behaviour I wouldn't wait to go check with a vet.
    – Cedric H.
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 7:53
  • 4
    @CedricH. is right. sudden change in behavior = trip to the vet. You might see if she still reacts that way with all the lights on to see if it's darkness that's confusing her or if it's something else in the later hours.
    – Jeff
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


OK, first rule of the internet - the words aren't worth the paper they're printed on. There is good advice on this site, but if you are concerned, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for going to see a vet.

If your pet's behaviour has changed suddenly, this means something is wrong. It might be something small, but only a vet can tell you.

From the example you give though I would guess (And I'm not a vet, I'm just some guy on the internet who also had a dog he cares for):

  • Your dog is worried about something happening. This is usually based on a 'cue-response'. Such as, for example, having eating something (like grass) and feeling a bit uncomfortable passing it.

  • Your dog is having problems with eyesight or sense of smell, and so is having a harder time recognising you.

But basically - you know your dog, and if it's behaviour has changed suddenly, then 'something else' is wrong and if you can't tell what that is - a vet is the person who can.

  • Just a randomly specific thing to add: a lot of people don't realise that "essential oils" are toxic to dogs, and this kind of confusion is a typical symptom of exposure - for example from a diffuser. Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 15:47

My dog is in the process of being treated for brain tumor or spinal/brain infection like encephalitis. She gets the same way sometimes from the brain swelling at the frontal lobe... It also causes her eyesight to be off, eyes to bug out and she is off balance. It's best even though you know your dog to proceed with caution because a scared, sick dog will be on the defensive. ER will try to put her down. I chose to go with a neurologist who's doing a CT scan and spinal tap... Good luck to you😢. It is urgent you get help right away. Brain infections can be cured if treated fast enough.

  • I just noticed this was 2 years ago...whoops. Hope it worked out
    – rese
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 1:28

I agree that it might be that your dog is having trouble seeing you or recognizing your scent, thus the reaction. Dogs easily get agitated when they are feeling something off so I recommend that you get your dog examined by a vet as soon as possible.

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