9 signs your dog is stressed

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signs your dog is stressed

Your dog lives a good life. He gets to lie around all day napping, he doesn’t have to cook his own food, and he gets regular cuddles and playtime.

Usually, there are no signs your dog could possibly be stressed. What a lucky guy, you think!

If only humans could live that way, and we didn’t have to deal with stress.

But funnily enough, dogs don’t really see it the same way. In fact, there are a lot of dogs who are constantly stressed. And it’s not always easy to spot.

So, here are 9 signs your dog is stressed.

9 signs your dog is stressed

Well, your dog might have to deal with more stress than you think he does. And stress isn’t fun for you or your dog.

There are many things that can stress a dog out, and it’ll differ from dog to dog. Determining what is stressing your dog out will help you manage his stress better.

Identifying whether or not your dog is stressed in the first place will help. There are a few common signs of stress in dogs. If your dog is showing any of the following signs, then he might be feeling a little anxious.

Now, let’s look at the 9 most common signs your dog is stressed.

1. Excessive lip licking

Dogs lick their lips for a lot of reasons. Your dog might lick his lips right after eating something to get all those tasty bits of food stuck to his mouth.

Lip licking can also be a sign that something is wrong if he’s doing it a lot. He might be trying to show you or someone else that he’s not a threat. It can also be a sign that he’s confused or frustrated. That’s why you might see him lick his lips occasionally when practicing a really hard trick.

It can also be an indicator of stress or anxiety. If your dog is licking his lips a lot, then he might be trying to tell you that he’s feeling anxious.

2. Excessive panting

Dogs don’t sweat the way we do. But when it gets hot, he still needs a way to cool off. So instead of sweating, your dog will start panting.

But if your dog is panting more than is normal, he might be stressed out. You can help determine if it’s stress or warmth-based on the context. How hot is the space you’re in? Is there something else going on?

If it’s not too warm and there’s a lot of activity going on, your dog is probably showing signs of stress!

If your dog is hot, on the other hand, take him somewhere where he can cool off. And don’t forget to keep in mind these 13 signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs!

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3. Pacing

Have you ever felt so stressed out that you just couldn’t sit still?

Part of the natural stress response is a surge in energy. This is normal for us humans as well as for dogs.

In the wild, a dog would need the energy to get out of a tough situation. But even though your dog doesn’t live in the wild anymore, he still retains that stress response.

And all that energy has to go somewhere!

So to deal with the excess energy and uncomfortable feelings of stress, your dog might start pacing. If your dog won’t stop walking around the house, there’s probably something making him anxious.

4. Shaking

If your dog is feeling stressed out, then you might find him shaking. Shaking is a really common response to stress, and you’ve probably done it too.

In moments of extreme stress, you may have noticed that you have difficulty in holding your hands steady. You’ve probably seen them quivering.

Your dog will also shake when he’s stressed out! That’s why you might see him trembling if he’s feeling anxious.

You might also see him shake his entire body, like he’s trying to “shake off” the uncomfortable feeling he has. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s trying to do!

Trembling or shaking his whole body excessively could be a sign something is stressing your dog out.

shaking all over is one of the signs your dog is stressed

5. Whining

Is your dog whining a lot? Why is your puppy whining and crying so much? Whining can be a sign of many problems.

Your dog might be feeling bored and whining is his way of asking you for something to do. He could have also injured himself and is whining because he’s hurt.

But another common reason why your dog might be whining is because there’s something going on that’s stressing him out.

However, if your dog is whining or crying a lot and you can’t determine the source, you may want to bring him to your vet to make sure he’s healthy.

Speaking of the vet: Have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!

6. Barking

A lot of dogs will bark when they’re stressed out. Barking is one of the ways that your dog communicates with the world around him.

If your dog is barking a lot, he might be trying to tell you that something is going on and he doesn’t like it. He’s trying to make sure that you’re aware of it as well!

Bear in mind that barking isn’t only caused by stress. Some dogs are just naturally chattier than others and have a lot to say!

For more information on barking, check out these related articles:

7. Changes in body posture

Your dog communicates vocally with you by whining or barking. But using his voice isn’t the only way your dog communicates.

In fact, the best way to understand what a dog is thinking or feeling is by his body language.

If your dog is feeling relaxed or happy, then his body will reflect that.

But if your dog is feeling stressed, you’ll be able to tell by his body language. A stressed dog may keep his ears back or his tail between his legs.

8. Changes in eyes and ears

If your dog is anxious, then you might be able to tell from his eyes and ears.

Stressed out dogs usually keep their ears back instead of upright and alert.

You may also find that you can see the whites of your dog’s eyes. Usually, it’s hard to see them. But a stressed dog might show “whale eye.”

If your dog is showing whale eye, that’s a major sign he’s stressed out and that you need to remove him from that stress right away.

9. Excessive thirst

Have you ever felt so stressed that your mouth went dry? You may have found that you needed a lot of water in those moments.

The same thing can happen to your dog! Stressed out dogs tend to get very thirsty, and your dog may be drinking a lot of water.

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How to calm a stressed dog

If your dog is showing signs of being stressed out, then it’s important to help him relax again. A dog that’s stressed can shift to one that’s reactive or aggressive. That’s not safe for anyone!

Here are a few things you should do to help your anxious dog. Make sure you also learn how to calm a stressed dog naturally.

Move away from the stimuli

The number one thing you need to do for your dog is identify what exactly is stressing him out. Once you’ve figured out what’s making him so anxious, you can make sure he gets away from it.

Is the stimulus something that you think you’ll encounter often? If it’s not, then you can leave it at that.

But if you know you’ll be running into it again and again, working with a trainer on counter conditioning will help your dog feel more comfortable.

Related topic: For dog training in general I highly recommend you get a program that walks you through step by step, such as Braintrainingfordogs. Certified dog trainer Adrienne Farricelli teaches you to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation! Check out Dogpackr’s review to see if this is a fit for you!

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Hold him by the shoulders

Dogs that are stressed out might have a hard time focusing on anything other than the stimulus. He might lose complete awareness of his body.

You can help bring awareness back by holding him by the shoulders. If you do this, make sure that your dog is calm enough not to bite or jump at you. Safety should be your number one concern.

Distract him

If your dog’s focus on the stimuli stressing him out isn’t too intense, then you might be able to distract him.

Grab one of his favorite toys and try to start playing with him. Or try getting him to perform a trick, like a sit or lie down.

Anything that helps to get his attention away from whatever is stressing him out will help!

Make him focus on you

One of the most useful commands you can teach your dog is “focus.” You might want to consider teaching your dog this command as soon as possible to help in situations of stress.

If your dog is starting to get anxious, then getting him to focus on you will help a lot. You’ll be able to keep your dog’s attention, which means you’re still in control of the situation. Once you have it, get yourself and your dog out of that situation right away!


You might think at first that dogs have an easy life. But dogs are emotional animals. And like us humans, they can feel stress and anxiety!

Make sure you know all the common signs of stress in dogs so that you can tell when he’s feeling anxious. And if your dog does start getting stressed, work with him right away to reduce the stress and keep your dog safe and happy.

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