Why Are Dogs Afraid Of Sewers

You are out on a walk with your dog and as you are passing by a sewer, you see your dog start trembling in fear and stop moving. 

This makes you wonder why he is so wary of the sewer despite it being well covered up?

Stinky Odor From The Sewer Irritates His Nose

You may not be able to smell the stinky odor emanating from the sewer as it is covered up, but that is certainly not the case for your dog!

Your dog’s nose has up to 300 million olfactory receptors (as compared to humans who only possess 6 million) which make him able to detect odors, even those that are masked by other smells or undetectable by your nose.

This means that a dog’s sense of smell is so powerful that he can actually sniff things from far away which are out of your sight.

So, it is no wonder why he tries to stay away from the sewer as the stench emanating from there can cause severe distress to his senses.

It’s a dog’s natural instinct to avoid anything that irritates his sense of smell.

He Hears Sound Coming From The Sewer

Dogs not only possess a strong scent of smell, but they are also born with great hearing. 

They are able to hear sounds that are between -5 dB and -15 dB and from a distance up to a quarter of a mile away, sometimes even farther.

This makes your dog freak out when he hears the movement of animals such as snakes, roaches, rays, raccoons and turtles in the sewer when he comes near it.

These sounds are usually very low, which explains why you are unable to hear them.

It could also be the case that your dog has heard the sound of running water in the sewer (after a heavy downpour) and that can lead to a lot of anxiety in him, especially when the noise gets louder during the night.

If your dog is exhibiting anxiety whenever he hears the sound of running water, he may also be showing discomfort when you are watering your plant with a water hose.

This is because the “gushing” sound of water from a water hose can be quite alarming for him.

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Fearful Experience Associated With Sewer

He could have had an unpleasant experience with the sewer and that had left a bad memory in his mind.

It could be the case that he had accidentally dropped into the sewer and was swept by the running water in the sewer and ended up in a dark place, where he was trapped.

This makes him associate the sewer as a dangerous place, and he will avoid it at all cost.

Appearance Of The Storm Grates Stunned Him

The scary appearance of the grate, which is used to cover the holes and openings of the sewers, makes your dog stressed and fearful.

You will likely find your dog afraid of going near the sewer after seeing this terrifying sewer grate.

He sees that there are many holes between the grates and is worried that his paws may be trapped, or he will fall into the sewer if the grates give way.

This fearful thought made him grow his fear of going near the sewer.

What you can do is to desensitize him to it through training.

To do so, you need to take your dog to the place where the sewer grate is located. Then you should put an enticing treat about a meter away from the sewer, and walk with him (he should be wearing a dog collar) in a CALMLY manner towards the treat.

Let your dog feel your calm energy and make him realize that you are there to protect him and everything will be fine.

As he gets closer to the grate, give him a reward (treat), so that he will learn to associate the treat with coming closer to the grate.

Repeat this exercise several times, until your dog learns to associate positive experiences when approaching the grate. This will help to overcome his fear of the sewer.

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Your Behavior Towards Sewer Scared Him

A dog who is scared of the sewer could be due to his owner’s reaction.

Dogs are good at understanding their owners emotions and reacting accordingly.

In fact, dogs understand human emotions much better than most people. They can sense when we are angry, upset or feeling scared.

Thus, if you are exhibiting fear when walking past the sewer, your dog can easily sense your unease and will start to associate your anxiety with the sewer and get fearful of it.

This fear towards sewers could be related to an unpleasant experience that you had when you were still a kid. Maybe you had a bad fall into an open sewer during a walk and suffered from a serious injury.

This traumatic event has made you feel so uncomfortable and scared whenever you come across any sewers as it brings back those painful memories. 

By controlling your breathing and focusing on something else while passing by the sewer, you can avoid your dog sensing your fear and anxiety. Shifting your focus away from the sewer should help to calm you down.

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