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Is Your Dog Stressed Out? Body Language to Look For | Optimeal®

By Optimeal Team


Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety. It’s not unusual for your dog to feel stress occasionally, but they may develop more serious behavioral issues if they are constantly stressed.

Unfortunately, your four-legged friend can’t look at you and tell you what is stressing them out, so you must know what to watch for. This article will take a close look at what may be causing your dog’s stress, signs of anxiety in dogs, and how you can help your pup calm down.  

What Causes Stress In Dogs?

There is a wide range of triggers for stress in dogs. They may experience stress if they are scared, frustrated, or bored. That said, you can be aware of several environmental triggers of stress. Loud noises, such as fireworks, can stress your dog out. 

A dramatic lifestyle change, especially if it involves getting less exercise, may also cause stress for your four-legged friend. If your dog suddenly starts getting less exercise, they may not know how to cope with their excess energy. 

Introducing a new furry friend to your home can also stress your dog out. Also, if you used to work from home but are now going to work in person, the shift may be stressful for your dog. It’s important to remember that dogs are creatures of habit, so changes to their daily routine can be difficult to deal with. 

What Are Signs That Your Dog Is Stressed?

You can tell that your dog is stressed through their body language. Although all dogs are different, you should be aware of a few common signs of stress in dogs. 

Although the following signs are the most common signs of stress or anxiety in dogs, it is important to remember that dogs display stress differently. If your dog is excited, they may bark or whine. Your furry friend may growl when they’re playing. 

That’s why learning about your pup’s specific behavior is important. If you ever notice a dramatic shift in your dog’s behavior, it may be a good idea to consult your veterinarian. 

Whining and Barking

When your dog is stressed, they may make more noise than normal. Usually, dogs whine and bark automatically when they are experiencing anxiety. However, there are several other reasons your pup may whine, so it is important to analyze the situation before you assume they are stressed. 

Body Language

You can look for several signs in your dog’s body language to see if they are stressed. One sign of stress in canines is whale eye, or when a dog reveals the whites of their eyes. 

You may also be able to tell that your dog is stressed if they tuck their ears or tail. If your dog is yawning, panting, or avoiding eye contact, these may also be signs they are stressed. 


If your dog paces back and forth and seems unable to sit down and relax, they are likely stressed. Sometimes, this may happen for a short period right before a meal or if they need to be let out, in which case it is not a cause for concern. However, if your dog frequently paces, it may be a sign of a stressful trigger in their environment. 


Another sign that your dog is stressed is if their whole body freezes. If this occurs, it may become dangerous because it is a sign that they cannot cope with their environment. In the case of dogs who are prone to biting, they may become aggressive after they freeze. 


Dogs tend to growl when they are uncomfortable and stressed. If you introduce a new furry friend or person to your dog’s environment, they may growl at first to indicate that they feel threatened. Although many people associate growling with aggression, it is more often a sign that your dog feels uncomfortable. 

Growling is one way your dog can warn you that they are stressed. For this reason, try not to reprimand your pup when they growl. Instead, observe them when they begin to growl and try to eliminate any possible stress triggers in their environment. 

How Can You Help Your Stressed Dog?

Luckily, once you identify that your pup is stressed, there are several things you can do at home to help them calm down and feel at ease. If you can identify what is triggering your dog’s stress, you will be able to choose the best method to help them feel at ease. 


Most dogs love to walk and run off-leash as much as possible. When you walk your dog, you allow them to enjoy all of the different sights and smells in their environment. This stimulation is good for both their physical and mental well-being. 

Take a Deep Breath

Your furry friend is very in tune with what you are feeling. If you are stressed, they may pick up on your stress and become agitated. Sometimes not giving clear commands, raising your voice, or looking directly into your dog’s eye can be stressful. The best thing you can do for your stressed pup is to stay calm.

Separate Your Dog From the Trigger

If you know that the cause of your dog’s stress is a loud sound or a group of excited children, try to get them away from the trigger and to a safe place. One of the benefits of training your dog to use a crate is that it will become a calming space for them to go to when they are stressed. 

If your dog does not use a crate, bring them to their bed or wherever they sleep to help them feel at ease. 

For dogs who experience food-related stress and anxiety, you may be able to make them feel more comfortable by moving their food bowl to a private area. If you know your dog’s trigger is a specific event like a long car ride, you can prepare beforehand to make the trip as comfortable as possible. 

Avoid Reprimands 

If your dog is exhibiting stressed behavior, even defensive behavior, reprimanding them will likely not help. In some cases, reprimanding a growling dog may make them even more stressed and cause them to bite or become more aggressive. 

Consult a Veterinarian or an Animal Behaviorist

Your dog’s anxiety can lead to aggression or problematic behaviors. If this is the case, or if you are worried that your dog is experiencing lots of stress, you can bring them to your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist. A professional may be able to help you come up with better strategies for managing your dog’s stress. 


There are several signs to look for to determine if your four-legged friend is stressed. Remember that the signs look different for each dog, so it’s important to watch your furry friend closely to determine how they display stress. 

If they are stressed, you can help them feel at ease at home by determining the cause of their stress and working to eliminate the trigger. Your PetnershipⓇ depends on knowing your pup inside and out. 



Physiological Indicators of Acute and Chronic Stress in Securely and Insecurely Attached Dogs Undergoing a Strange Situation Procedure (SSP): Preliminary Results | MDPI

Physiological stress reactivity and recovery related to behavioral traits in dogs | NIH

Dogs can discriminate between human baseline and psychological stress condition odours | PLOS ONE

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