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10 Signs Your Dog Is Stressed And How To Relieve It

Julia Nikolaus
10 Signs Your Dog Is Stressed And How To Relieve It

The world is a stressful place, and not just for humans. If you’re a pet parent, you may have noticed some symptoms in your dog that indicate stress. It’s common for fur babies to experience stress, and it doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. There are many reasons that a dog can become stressed. Changes in the household are a big source of stress, as are some external factors like thunderstorms and traffic noises. A stressed pup also might be sick.

It can be hard to track down the exact source of the stress your furbaby is feeling, and it may be more than one thing. If you think your dog may be stressed, watch out for these symptoms so you are able to relieve the condition and make your friend feel better.

Posture Changes

As a pet parent, you know your dog’s posture and gait. When dogs aren’t under stress, they tend to have a loose posture with their weight distributed evenly to each of their four legs. However, when a dog gets stressed, their posture will change. They may hold their tail in between their legs, and their bodies can become very rigid. They may appear to “freeze” in place. This is often a sign of extreme stress. They may also put all of their weight on their back legs. Some stressed dogs will get into a cowering position. If you noticed these symptoms, it’s a good idea to try to find out the source of the stress.

Shaking and Pacing

It isn’t only humans who pace when they’re stressed. Dogs do this frequently to try to relieve their nervous energy. Pacing is a key sign of both stress and agitation. Your furbaby can also shake when they’re stressed. If you notice shaking that isn’t normal, as it can be for some small dogs, try to notice what has changed and what may be causing the stress. When your furbaby is shaking all over, this can be a sign of serious stress that you need to try to relieve.

Escaping and Hiding

When stress becomes overwhelming to a dog, they may try to immediately escape the situation. Running away or struggling with their leash may indicate the current situation is causing them stress. They may also hide behind their human parents to try to avoid the situation. Some dogs will also nudge their people to try to get them to keep moving so that they can avoid the stressor. If your dog is slinking and cowering behind you, it’s a good indication that they are being subjected to a serious cause of stress.

Barking and Whining

These vocalizations are one of the most important ways that dogs communicate with the world. When a dog has a lot of stress, they may have a hard time controlling their whining. Whining is an automatic behavior that happens when there is a major stressor. Dogs may whine for other reasons, though, so it’s important to pay attention to the context of the whining. Dogs can also have the automatic response of barking when they have stress. It may be an overwhelming situation that the dog feels may be a danger to them. Of course, barking can be for other reasons, but if you don’t see a reason, it could be a reaction to stress.


Like barking and whining, growling can be done for a variety of reasons. It often signals that your furbaby is feeling stress and anxiety. It can mean that they are feeling threatened, or it may indicate that they’re in pain. The growling is a warning, and it’s best to heed that warning. Some pet parents try to get their dogs to never growl, but that warning is needed as a part of the dog’s communication. It often means that a bite is next. Whatever the problem is, a growling dog feels uncomfortable, and they may need attention from you to soothe their stress.

Ear Changes

As a pet parent, you’re well aware of what your pet’s ears usually look like. Dogs are very expressive with their ears, and the way they look can be a sign of stress. If your furbaby has ears that are held in a straight back position, chances are that they are stressed. They may also make their ears highly rigid as they pay attention to whatever is causing them the stress.

Trouble Relaxing

When you’re stressed, it can be hard to let go and relax, and the same is true for doggos. If your dog is feeling stressed and/or anxious, they will have a hard time winding down and resting. Your dog may seem to be on edge, ready to jump if danger appears. They may flinch whenever they hear a sound, or they may try to sleep and frequently wake up during it. You’ve seen your dog lying down in a relaxed position. If you see them lying down with a rigid posture and have wide eyes that are highly alert, they may have too much stress to be able to relax.

Display of the Gums

When your dog has their gums exposed, but they are happy and are wagging their tail, this isn’t a sign of a problem. It’s just another way to communicate. However, when your furbaby shows their gums when they aren’t happy, this can be a sign of a highly stressed dog who is issuing a warning. If you see your dog curling their lips without any tail wagging involved, and you notice growling and rigid positioning, this may indicate future biting or nipping. It’s important to give your dog space when you see this symptom.

Wet Paws

Pets don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like humans do. For your furbaby, the only sweat will be through their paws. If you notice wet paws or see wet dog prints in your home, this can be a sign of stress.

Other Physical Signs

When your furbaby is stressed, it causes symptoms on the inside as well as the outside. The internal turmoil your pet faces can greatly affect the way they look and act on the outside. When stressed, a dog may experience a faster breathing rate (panting) and a faster heart rate. Their body will send important nutrients from important systems and redirect them to the muscles in case they need to run from the danger.

Your pet’s stress may be caused by sickness, and some illnesses can even be caused by stress for dogs. High blood pressure and even ulcers can have stress as the root cause. Stressed dogs may also have difficulty with digestion. These effects are noticeable in dogs when they lead to symptoms like diarrhea, urinating more often, changes in their appetite, pupils that are dilated, increased drooling, and foaming at the mouth.

When you notice stress symptoms, you may immediately see the source of stress, or it may be tough to find out its source. Always pay attention to the context of the symptoms and the circumstances. You may discover a way to remove a stressor and soothe your dog.

Julia Nikolaus
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