Signs of Stress In Your Dog

Dogs can show various signs that they are stressed. As dog owners it is helpful for us to know what these signs are so we can help keep our dogs happy and safe.


It is important to look at the signs in context of the whole situation, as some can be normal behaviours. Dogs will usually exhibit more than one sign when stressed. When in doubt give the dog space. Thanks to Millicent Hayes, owner of Unleashed Potential Dog Training, for putting together all this information.


Signs of Stress

  • Lip and nose licking

  • One paw raised

  • Yawning

  • Scratching

  • Sniffing

  • Whale eye (whites showing)

  • Low tail with only end wagging

  • Tucked tail

  • Ears back

  • Closed mouth, tight lips

  • Furrowed brow

  • Avoids eye contact

  • Head turned away

  • Excessive panting (when not hot or tired)

  • Stiff body

  • Trembling

  • Shake it off (like they are wet, but when they are dry)

  • Rolling on their back

  • Hiding behind a person or object

  • Moving away

  • Pacing

  • Refusing food or treats

  • Moving in slow motion

  • Hyper vigilance

  • Growling or barking


If you see these signs in your dog and realise they are stressed you need to remove them from stressor, or if that's not possible, remove the stressor. Do not punish them for showing any of these behaviours as that will increase their stress levels and can lead to a bite. If you are concerned about the level of stress your dog is displaying speak to your vet about a referral to a veterinary behaviourist.

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WA Pet Project is a Perth based cat and dog rescue focused on improving the lives of pets and their humans. 

© 2016  by Alexie Green.