• SWK and Authors

Signs of Stress in Dogs


Is your dog stressed at the vet, on walks, when she sees other dogs, when company comes? If so, you can help relieve her stress by learning how to recognize the signs and things that cause stress.


Signs of stress in dogs are many and some not so obvious, but I can’t tell you how many emails and comments we receive from guardians who didn’t realize that their dog was stressed until they went through the images on the Dog Decoder app and saw their own dog in those images.


Stress can cause health issues as well as behavioral issues that when go unnoticed can be the demise of the relationship between dogs and humans. Being able to read these signs and knowing what actually causes stress can be a real eye opener while not knowing them can cause a dog to bite.



Trigger stacking is when a dogs triggers (things that cause a dog to be stressed) stack up and she had no reserve to manage herself. Knowing not only the signs/body languages that cause stress but knowing what things in her environment can be causing her stress, may prevent a bite.


Signs of Stress:


  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Aggression

  • Panting

  • Extreme Licking

  • Excessive Barking

  • Pacing

  • Digging

  • Destructive Chewing

  • Leash Biting

  • Drooling

  • Bloat

  • Excessive Tail Wagging

  • Whining

  • Poor Coat Condition

  • Excessive Short Term Shedding

  • Whale Eye

  • Sniffing

  • Shivering/Shaking when it’s not cold

  • Tongue Flicks

  • Hiding

  • Paw Lift

  • Shake Off

  • Tucked Tail

  • Scratching

  • Look Away

  • Hyperactivity


Causes of Stress:



Environmental changes: moving, getting married or divorced, having a baby, going away to college, losing a best friend (dog or person), Mondays. Yes, Mondays because after a weekend of fun your pal doesn’t understand why you’re up and gone again all day long and this can be the beginning of separation anxiety.


  • Training or not training your dog

  • Backyard only dogs, never going for walks, playing with other dogs…

  • Confinement

  • Walking an unsocialized dog

  • Lack of exercise causing the dog to be destructive, aggressive, jump, etc.

  • Riding in the car

  • Getting a new dog, cat or other animal

  • Illness

  • Meeting new people for an unsocialized dog

  • Going to the vet, groomer, dog show, events, dog park, doggie day car, etc.

  • Boredom

  • Improper restraint or handling

  • Yelling at your dog

  • Inconsistency

  • Ill mannered children

  • Lack of daily routine

  • Impatience

  • Ill mannered dogs

  • Lack of understanding in reading dogs body language (This is really No. 1)





How To Reduce Stress:

  • Training

  • Exercise

  • Learn to read dog body language

  • Have a routine (not rigid) yet consistent

  • Massage/T-Touch

  • Healthy diet

  • Socializing early with dogs, children, new places, vets office, (100 faces 100 days in the pups first 4 months of life.)

  • Play games

  • Playing with other dogs

Stimulate your pet’s mind

Without ample mental stimulation, boredom in pets can lead to behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety, inappropriate elimination, and destructive activities. Keep your pet’s mind sharp and engaged with food puzzles, interactive toys, and long-lasting treat puzzles.

Also as with humans, exercise can be a great stress reducer. Physical activities like walking or playing fetch help both you and your dog release tension. It is also good to provide your dog with a safe place in the home where he can escape anxious situations. Everybody enjoys a calm place to retreat.

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