Signs of Stress & Your Dog

006Dogs come in all shapes and sizes with various temperaments and unique personalities.

Therefore it’s not uncommon to find that your dog will suffer from stress related problems just as we do, which can then lead on to unusual behaviour. Each dog is an individual just as humans are and will experience different symptoms depending on the situation and the dog’s personality.

Many of us assume our dog is happy because they live in an environment that we would find acceptable, but is it suitable for the dog? We ignore many of the obvious signs because we think like a human, not like a dog.

We cannot remove all the stresses from their lives but we can be more understanding of our dog’s needs. Confinement, suppressed natural behaviours like chasing, herding or digging may begin to affect your dog’s behaviour. If you notice changes in how your dog appears or behaves then it would be wise to pay attention.

There are classic stress symptoms that would be helpful for owners to be able to identify rather than assuming they have a badly behaved or disobedient dog.

Common signs to look for are:

  • House soiling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Lip and Nose licking
  • Pinned ears
  • Sweating from paws
  • Slow or tense movements
  • Panting, whining or barking
  • Shaking or shivering
  • Hyperactive or restless
  • Tail chasing
  • Defensive or destructive
  • Bad coat or itchy skin

Causes or triggers:

  • Loud noises such as fireworks or traffic
  • Confinement
  • Separation anxiety
  • Physical discomfort or pain
  • Diet
  • Lonely, boredom
  • Visitor to the home
  • Thirsty or hungry
  • Changes in the pack hierarchy
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Diarrhoea

Once you understand your dog’s body language, you can help avoid these stressful situations before your dog becomes overwhelmed. By recognising our dog’s stress signals, we are taking care of both ourselves and the dog as we avoid and prevent situations that could cause grief and upset to us and our families.


Kaye Townsend (MBACP)

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