Decoding Subtle Signs of Stress in Dogs

Do you know the signs of stress in dogs? Are you familiar with your dog’s mood? do you know how help your dog stay calm? Anxiety in dogs is a real problem. Because it means that your dog may have external fears that you are not aware of. If you suspect that you are seeing a tucked tail or excessive sleeping, then it’s probably time for you to bring your dog to a veterinary behaviorist.


Some common signs you can take note of when your dog is stressed could be:

  • Rigid ears body language
  • Lip licking
  • Produce excess saliva
  • Feeling anxious
  • Sudden onset involuntary response system
  • Whale eye
  • Excessive yawning
  • Excess moisture
  • Tucked tail
  • Your dog avoid other dogs

If you are looking for a way to calm down your dog, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be teaching you how to notice stress in dogs.

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Table of Contents

Why is it Important to Calm a Stressed Dog?


It is important dog owners to remain calm with a stressed dog for several reasons. Firstly, stress can have detrimental effects on a dog’s physical health. Prolonged stress can lead to gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune and sympathetic nervous system,, and skin conditions.

By calming a stressed dog, we can help alleviate these health issues and promote their overall well-being. Secondly, stress can significantly impact a dog’s mental stimulation emotional well-being. Dogs experiencing stress may exhibit behavioral issues and a decreased quality of life.

Calming a stressed out dog is stressed out’s mood can help improve their behavior, restore their enjoyment of daily activities, and strengthen the bond between the dog and their owner. Lastly, by providing a calm and balanced state for a stressed dog, we contribute to their overall happiness. A happy and stress-free dog leads to a harmonious and fulfilling companionship, creating a positive environment for both the dog and the owner.

What are Some Body Language Cues in Stressed Dogs?


Some body language cues in stressed dogs include:

Tail Position

A stressed dog is stressed feeling uncomfortable or anxious and may tuck their tail between their hind legs or hold it low and still. A tail held high and stiff can also indicate agitation or stress.

Body Posture

A stressed dog may exhibit a lowered body posture with their weight and forward facing ears being shifted back. They may also crouch or cower, trying to make themselves appear smaller.

Facial Expressions

Dogs can show signs of stress through their facial expressions. Furrowed brows, a tense jaw, or a wrinkled forehead are indicators of anxiety or distress signs your dog.


Rapid or excessive panting, especially when not related to physical exertion or heat, can be a sign of stress in dogs. The panting may be accompanied by salivation or lip licking.

Ears and Eyes

Stressed dogs may pin their front ears straight back against their head or have dilated pupils. Averting or glazed eyes and excessive blinking are additional stress signs to watch for.

Changes in Behavior

Stressed dogs may exhibit changes in their behavior that can serve as cues for their stress levels. These of canine stress can include loss of appetite, overeating, restlessness, aggression, withdrawal, or excessive scratching, licking or chewing.

It’s important to note that these body language cues should be observed hand in hand with the context of the dog’s overall behavior and environment. Each dog’s body language alone is unique, and while these cues can indicate stress, it is always best to consider the individual and signs your dog’s personality and other factors when assessing their well-being.

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What Are The Changes in Behavior for a Stressed Out Dog?


Changes in behavior for a dog feels a stressed-out dog can manifest in various ways. While stress occurs, each dog may exhibit different signs, here are some common changes in behavior that can indicate stress:

Appetite Changes

Stress can cause a dog to have a decreased or increased appetite. Some dogs may lose interest in food and experience a decreased appetite, while others may exhibit stress-related overeating or bingeing.

Aggression or Irritability

A stressed dog may display aggressive behavior, such as growling, snarling, or even biting. They may become easily irritable, especially in stressful situations, that previously didn’t trigger such responses.

Withdrawal or Hiding

Dogs experiencing stress may withdraw from social interaction and seek hiding spots to escape from perceived threats or overwhelming or stressful situations. They may spend more time alone and avoid contact with family members or other pets.

Restlessness or Pacing

Restlessness and excessive pacing are common signs of stress in dogs. They say most dogs may feel stressed, have difficulty settling down, constantly move around the house, or exhibit repetitive behaviors like circling.

Excessive Licking or Chewing

Stressed dogs feeling stressed out may engage in excessive licking or chewing, often targeting specific areas of their body or objects around them. This behavior can serve as a coping mechanism or a way to release tension.

Increased Vocalization

Some stressed dogs may vocalize more than usual. They may bark excessively, whine, or howl as a response to stress or to seek attention and comfort.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Stress can disrupt a dog’s sleep patterns. They may have difficulty falling asleep, experience restlessness during sleep, or exhibit frequent waking up throughout the night.

Avoidance or Escape Attempts

Stressed or anxious dogs may try to avoid or escape from situations or environments that trigger their anxiety. They may attempt to run away, hide, or show other signs of resistance when approached or confined.

It’s important to note that these behavioral changes can also be indicative of other underlying issues, so it’s essential to consider the overall context and stressful situation and consult with a veterinarian or professional animal behaviorist to accurately assess and address a dog’s stress.

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What are the Environmental Triggers of an Anxious Dog?


An anxious dog can be sensitive to various environmental triggers that can exacerbate their anxiety. These triggers may vary from dog to the dog’s behavior too, but here are some common environmental factors that can contribute to anxiety in dogs:

Loud Noises

Dogs are often sensitive to loud or sudden noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction sounds. These loud noises can startle and create anxiety in many dogs too, leading to increased stress levels.

Changes in Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit, and sudden changes in their daily routine can cause stress and anxiety. This includes changes in feeding schedules, walking routines, or alterations in the household dynamics, such as the arrival of a new pet or family member.

Unfamiliar Environments

Dogs can feel anxious and stressed when placed in unfamiliar environments, such as new homes, unfamiliar parks, or boarding facilities. Being in an unknown place can trigger fear and uncertainty not all dogs.

Separation and Isolation

Dogs are social animals and can experience separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods or separated from their own dog owners. Being isolated or confined to a small space for short periods without human or canine companionship can lead to heightened anxiety levels.

Conflict or Aggression

Dogs that have experienced past incidents of aggression or conflict, either with other dogs or humans, may become anxious and exhibit fear-based behaviors in similar or potentially dangerous situations again. The fear of encountering aggressive individuals or environments can trigger their anxiety and normal behaviors.


Too much sensory stimulation, such as crowded places, busy streets, or chaotic environments, can overwhelm a dog and contribute to their anxiety. The presence of many unfamiliar people, noises, and sights can be distressing for dogs dealing with an anxious dog.

Past Traumatic Experiences

Dogs that have experienced traumatic events in the past, such as abuse, neglect, or accidents, may develop generalized anxiety. The memories of these traumatic experiences can be triggered by certain environmental cues, leading to heightened anxiety responses.

Recognizing Stress in Specific Situations


Recognizing stress in specific situations is crucial for understanding and addressing a dog’s anxiety. By identifying the signs of stress in different contexts, we can better support our canine companions and provide appropriate interventions. Here are some common situations where stress can be observed in dogs and how to recognize it:

Vet Visits

Many dogs experience stress and anxiety when visiting the veterinarian. Signs of stress in this situation may include trembling, excessive panting, pacing, attempts to hide, or even aggression towards veterinary staff or other animals. Some dogs may vocalize their discomfort through whining or barking.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Car Rides

For some dogs, car rides can be stressful. Signs of stress during car rides may include panting, drooling, pacing, restlessness, attempts to escape or jump out of the vehicle, or even vomiting. Dogs may also display anxious behaviors such as whining, barking, or cowering.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Grooming Sessions

Dogs that are stressed during grooming sessions may exhibit signs such as trembling, trying to escape or hide, excessive panting, vocalizations (whining, growling), or displaying aggression towards the groomer. They may resist handling, become rigid, or show avoidance behaviors.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Thunderstorms or Fireworks

Many dogs experience fear and anxiety during thunderstorms or fireworks displays. Signs of stress in these situations may include trembling, panting, pacing, hiding, seeking comfort from their owners, drooling, attempting to escape or find a safe spot, and displaying heightened sensitivity to noise.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Social Interactions

Dogs that are anxious in social situations may display signs such as cowering, trying to hide behind their owners, tucking their tail between their legs, avoiding eye contact, or exhibiting submissive behaviors. They may also show signs of aggression if they feel threatened or overwhelmed.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety can exhibit various signs of stress when left alone. These may include excessive vocalization (barking, howling), destructive behavior, inappropriate elimination, pacing, excessive drooling, and attempts to escape or damage doors or windows.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: New Environments or Experiences

When dogs encounter unfamiliar environments, objects, or experiences, they are anxious situations may display signs of stress. These can include cautious behavior, lowered body posture, excessive sniffing, avoidance or hesitancy, excessive vocalization, or freezing in place.

It’s important to note that the signs of stress can vary from dog to dog. Understanding an individual dog’s body language and behavior patterns is key to recognizing their specific stress signals in different situations. By being observant and responsive to these cues, we can provide appropriate support and create a more comfortable and stress-free environment for our dogs.

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Techniques to Alleviate Stress in a Stressed Dog


Alleviating stress in a stressed dog is crucial for their well-being and overall quality of life. Here are some effective techniques to help alleviate stress in a dog:

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Create a Calm Environment

Provide a safe and peaceful space for your dog. Designate a quiet area where they can retreat to when feeling stressed. Make sure the environment is free from loud noises, excessive activity, or any other factors that may contribute to their anxiety.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Maintain a Consistent Routine

Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Establish a consistent daily schedule for feeding, exercise, and rest. A structured routine helps dogs feel secure and reduces uncertainty, which can help alleviate their stress.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Promote Physical Exercise

Regular physical exercise is essential for dogs to release pent-up energy and reduce stress. Engage in activities such as daily walks, playtime, or interactive games that are appropriate for your dog’s breed, age, and health. Physical exercise also promotes mental stimulation, which can help distract from stressors.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Use Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training techniques, which involve rewarding desired behaviors with treats, praise, or play, can help build confidence and reduce stress in dogs. Focus on rewarding calm and relaxed behavior, and avoid punishment-based training methods that can increase anxiety.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Provide Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation helps redirect a dog’s focus and can be an effective stress reliever. Use puzzle toys, interactive feeding toys, or engage in training sessions to keep your dog mentally engaged and challenged. Mental stimulation can help tire their mind and provide a healthy outlet for stress.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Offer Relaxation Techniques

Explore relaxation techniques that can help calm a stressed dog. This may include gentle massage, aromatherapy with calming scents, or playing soothing music or white noise. Additionally, these techniques can create a calming atmosphere and promote relaxation.

Signs of Stress in Dogs: Implement Desensitization and Counterconditioning

If your dog has specific triggers that cause stress, such as loud noises or certain environments, desensitization and counterconditioning techniques can be helpful. Additionally, gradually expose your dog to the trigger in a controlled and positive way, pairing it with rewards and positive experiences. Over time, this can help reduce their stress response.

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