How to Know if a Dog Is Stressed

If you can recognize signs of stress in your dog, you can take steps to help her overcome it.
small sweet puppy waiting to walk image by Victor B from

Dogs show stress in both obvious and subtle ways. Understanding the cause of a dog's stress is the first step in helping your dog overcome it. Common reasons for stress in dogs include situations such as confinement, trauma, excessive noise and drastic change in environment. While occasional stress is normal and can be expected, prolonged or chronic stress can have an adverse effect on your dog that sometimes is profound. If your dog seems to be stressed frequently, contact your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist for diagnosis and treatment.

Step 1

Watch your dog's body language. If your dog is whining, panting or yawning, he may be stressed. Yawning often is a dog's way of trying to calm himself if he's nervous. The dog's tongue might be stiff and cupped at the tip if he is experiencing stress. Move your dog to a room or place where he feels safe and comfortable in order to help him get calmer.

Step 2

Observe your dog's movement. Pacing, backing away from a person or object, or holding himself in a crouched position indicates anxiety. If you see your dog in a threatened or cowering position, attempt to visually block what you think may be bothering him before moving him to another location. Visually obscuring the object of his stress can calm him enough so that you can safely restrain him.

Step 3

Inspect your dog's coat for shedding more than expected. If he happens to be trembling or shivering and he is not cold, chances are something in his environment is causing stress. Bare patches or sores on your dog's body may be a sign he is licking himself as a way to alleviate stress, or he may be attempting to treat a skin ailment himself.

Step 4

Watch your dog's paw prints on the floor. If they are sweaty, and not wet from the outdoors, that is a sign of discontent. Hiding or avoiding other household pets or family members may also be an indicator. Offer your dog a treat or chew toy in a quiet location to distract him from his concern. Gentle massage may also relax your dog.


  • Socialize your dog in new and welcoming environments so he is able to handle different sorts of stimuli.


About the Author

Kimberly DeCosta is an accomplished equestrian and entrepreneur. She has written for numerous equestrian publications and authored marketing packages for large companies and sports teams.

Photo Credits

  • small sweet puppy waiting to walk image by Victor B from