Author: Johnny Bonds
Just like humans, our furry family members can also feel various levels of stress. The signs of anxiety in dogs can often be quite subtle because they mimic normal behavior antics. So how can we tell when our canine friends are feeling stressed? While there are grooming courses available that will teach you all about it, here are some clues that may indicate your pup is feeling elevated levels of stress.
While the tail between their legs is probably the most commonly known sign of puppy stress, not all dogs will use this body language. Some dogs may position their tail straight down, others may stick their tail straight up in the air. The most important thing to be aware of is when the position of your dog’s tail is rigid or otherwise different from normal. Because for most dogs, their tail will be the first noticeable indication of them feeling stressed.
Canines often communicate using their eyes, which is why everybody knows about puppy dog eyes. So when dogs are feeling stressed, they might have dilated pupils, blink rapidly, or pop out their eyeballs. If your pup peels their eyelids back and you can see crescent shapes of white at the sides of their pupils, they’re most likely trying to tell you they feel stressed out by something.
Another one of the more commonly known indicators of stress in dogs is their ears reacting in one of two ways. Most dogs will display their stress by pinning their ears back so they are flat against their head, whereas others will make their ears rigid under stress and stick them straight up in the air. Get to know how your dog usually positions their ears, because whichever position isn’t normal for them will certainly indicate stress.
Most dogs will usually show their teeth when they’re in a playful mood, but according to Pet Food Sherpa, when a dog’s lip curls back to show their gums this could be a reaction to stress. Even just their whiskers standing up a little more can mean they could be feeling stressed. It’s important to watch your dog while you are playing so you can learn what playful looks like for them. Because a stressed lip curl showing gums can very quickly turn into a snarling snap and then a bite.
Barking is obviously pretty normal self-expression for dogs. Some canines will also be more prone to vocalization than other breeds, but it will usually be intensified for all dogs when they’re under any sort of duress. While unexplained and prolonged barking can both be indications of stress, so can excessive panting, whining, growling, and whimpering. Some dogs may whine and bark when they feel stressed to get your attention, whereas others may vocalize in order to self soothe.
Licking can sometimes be another reaction to stress, especially when it is always happening in the same place. Excessive licking is usually noticeable by the tell-tale pinkish brown colored stains on your dog’s fur. While recurring licking like this can sometimes be caused by parasites, skin diseases, and even boredom, all of these can also be stressful experiences for some dogs.
Some dogs act just like humans when they feel stressed or nervous, with the same sudden need to empty their bowels. Even though most dogs will want to mark their territory by urinating soon after meeting a new puppy pal, they may also be simultaneously reacting to the added stress of their new canine friend. Separation anxiety also causes some puppies to urinate inside, which is another example of urinating due to stress.
It’s important to understand that sometimes stress is completely unavoidable. Remember too that not all stressful situations are bad because they can also help your dog avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
Finally, it’s essential you are always aware of how your dog reacts to everything. And once you learn how to distinguish normal puppy behavior from a stressful reaction, you will be able to be there for your dog so you can both deal with it together.