10 Main Signs Of Stress In Dogs

Mar 23, 2024

Dogs are wonderful companions that bring joy and happiness to our lives. However, just like humans, dogs can experience stress too. Stress is a normal response to any kind of change or challenge in an individual's environment.

As a responsible pet owner, it is important to be aware of the signs of stress in our furry friends so we can help alleviate their discomfort and improve their overall well-being. In this article, we will discuss the top 10 main signs of stress in dogs and how to recognize them.

Why It's Important To Identify Stress In Dogs

Stress can hurt a dog's physical and emotional health, just like it does in humans. It can lead to various behavioral issues such as aggression, destructive behavior, and even health problems like gastrointestinal issues and a weakened immune system.

Identifying and addressing stress early on can help prevent these consequences and improve the quality of life for both the dog and their owner.

Also, understanding the signs of stress in dogs can help us identify and address potential triggers or sources of stress in their environment.

Top 10 Main Signs Of Stress In Dogs

Various signs may indicate stress in dogs. These signs can be both physical and behavioral. It is important to note that each dog may exhibit different signs and it's crucial to pay attention to any changes in their behavior or demeanor.

Changes In Appetite

One of the main signs of stress in dogs is changes in their appetite. Just like humans, dogs may experience a decrease or increase in their appetite when they are stressed. Some dogs may lose interest in food entirely, while others may start overeating.

It is important to monitor your dog's eating habits and seek advice from a veterinarian if you notice significant changes. These changes can also be a sign of underlying health issues, so it's important to rule out any medical causes.

To help alleviate stress-related changes in appetite, try offering your dog small and frequent meals, or switching to a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs. Make sure to also provide them with plenty of fresh water at all times.

Pacing Or Restlessness

Another common sign of stress in dogs is pacing or restlessness. Dogs may pace back and forth, unable to relax or settle down. This can be a result of their body's response to stress hormones, causing them to feel constantly on edge.

To help calm your dog down, try engaging them in activities that they enjoy, such as playing with their favorite toy or going for a walk. It's also important to create a safe and comfortable environment for your dog to help relieve their stress.

If pacing and restlessness persist, it's best to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions or discuss potential behavioral training methods.

Excessive Panting Or Drooling

Excessive panting or drooling can also be a sign of stress in dogs. While panting is normal for dogs, excessive and sudden panting without physical activity or hot weather may indicate stress.

Dogs may also drool excessively when they are stressed, as the production of saliva increases during times of distress. Pay attention to your dog's body language and behavior when exhibiting these signs to determine if it is stress-related.

To help alleviate this, try calming techniques such as deep breathing exercises or providing a quiet and comfortable space for your dog to relax. If the panting or drooling persists, consult with a veterinarian for further guidance.

Hiding Or Avoidance

Dogs may exhibit hiding behavior or avoidance when they are stressed. They may retreat to a secluded spot or try to avoid interactions with people or other animals. This can be a sign of fear and anxiety, which can be triggered by various factors such as loud noises or unfamiliar situations.

As responsible pet owners, it is important to create a safe and secure environment for our dogs. Avoid exposing them to stressors that may trigger their hiding or avoidance behavior. If the behavior persists, consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for guidance on how to address and manage this stress response.

Excessive Grooming, Licking, And Scratching

Stressed dogs may also exhibit excessive grooming, licking, and scratching behaviors. This can be a way for them to self-soothe and cope with stress. However, if your dog is excessively grooming or scratching to the point of injury, it's important to address the underlying cause of their stress.

Consulting with a veterinarian can help determine if any medical issues are causing this behavior. Additionally, providing mental stimulation and engaging activities for your dog can help redirect their focus away from excessive grooming.

Destructive Behavior

Dogs may resort to destructive behavior when they are stressed. This can include chewing on furniture or other objects, digging up the yard, or even self-harm such as excessive licking and biting of their own body.

It's important to address this behavior early on before it becomes a habit. Providing appropriate chew toys and engaging activities for your dog can help alleviate their stress and redirect their destructive tendencies. It's also important to identify and remove any potential triggers or sources of stress in their environment.

Aggression Towards People Or Other Animals

Stress can also cause dogs to act aggressively towards people or other animals. This may be due to fear or anxiety, and it's important to address this behavior promptly.

If your dog displays aggressive behavior, consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for guidance on how to manage their stress response. It may also be necessary to avoid situations that may trigger aggression until the underlying cause of their stress is addressed.

Changes In Sleeping Habits

Stress can disrupt a dog's normal sleeping habits. They may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or they may sleep excessively to avoid dealing with their stressors.

To help regulate your dog's sleeping habits, establish a consistent routine for them. This can include regular meal times and exercise schedules, as well as providing a comfortable and quiet place for them to sleep.

If the changes in sleeping habits persist, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any potential underlying health issues or discuss potential anxiety-reducing techniques.

Excessive Barking, Whining, Or Howling

Stress can also manifest in excessive vocalization, such as barking, whining, or howling. This behavior may be a way for dogs to communicate their distress or seek comfort from their owners.

To address this behavior, it's important to identify and address the source of your dog's stress. Providing mental and physical stimulation through activities and training can also help reduce their stress levels. If the excessive vocalization continues, it's best to consult with a veterinarian for further guidance on how to manage this behavior. 

Also, ensuring that your dog receives enough exercise and mental stimulation can help reduce their overall stress levels. Additionally, implementing a consistent daily routine and providing them with a secure and comfortable environment can go a long way in helping to alleviate stress in dogs. Remember to always keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or habits, as these may be signs of underlying stress that need to

Changes In Body Language And Posture

Stress can also be expressed through changes in a dog's body language and posture. They may appear tense, have their tail tucked between their legs, or display other signs of discomfort such as lip licking or yawning.

When you notice these changes in your dog's body language, it's important to address the source of their stress and provide them with a calm and safe environment. Avoid punishing or scolding your dog for these behaviors, as it can further increase their stress levels.

Instead, offer comforting words and gentle physical touch to help soothe and reassure your dog. If the changes in body language persist, consult with a veterinarian for professional guidance on how to manage your dog's stress response.

With proper care and attention, we can help our dogs cope with stress and live happy and fulfilling lives.  By being observant of their behavior and providing a safe and supportive environment, we can ensure that our furry companions are well taken care of both physically and mentally.

How To Help A Stressed Dog

How To Help A Stressed Dog

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. Additionally, there are some steps you can take at home to help your dog cope with stress:

  • Create a safe and calm environment for them: Provide a quiet and comfortable space for your dog to retreat to when they are feeling stressed.
  • Stick to a routine: Dogs thrive on consistency, so having a daily routine can help reduce their stress levels.
  • Engage in regular physical activity and mental stimulation: Exercise and playtime can help release excess energy and promote relaxation in dogs.
  • Use calming aids: There are various products available, such as pheromone diffusers and herbal supplements, that can help calm a stressed dog.
  • Practice positive reinforcement: Reward your dog for calm and relaxed behaviors to reinforce positive associations.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If your dog's stress levels are significantly impacting their behavior or quality of life, consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for further guidance.

Remember to always approach a stressed dog with patience and understanding. With proper care and attention, we can help our canine companions overcome stress and lead happy lives.

Are There Certain Dog Breeds More Prone To Stress?

While all dogs can experience stress, some breeds may be more prone to it due to their genetics or personality traits. For example, highly sensitive and anxious breeds such as the Border Collie and Cocker Spaniel may be more likely to develop stress-related behaviors.

Additionally, dogs that have experienced past trauma or neglect may also be more susceptible to stress. It's important to consider a dog's individual history and personality when addressing their stress levels.

However, it's important to note that every dog is unique and can experience stress differently. Therefore, it's essential to observe your own dog's behavior and provide them with tailored care and attention based on their specific needs. 

Why Is It Important To Manage A Dog's Stress Levels?

Besides causing behavioral issues, chronic stress can also have negative effects on a dog's physical health. It can weaken their immune system, increase the risk of developing certain illnesses, and even shorten their lifespan.

Moreover, a stressed-out dog may not be able to fully enjoy or engage in daily activities that they once found enjoyable. By managing their stress levels, we can ensure that our dogs are well-cared for and able to live happy and fulfilling lives.  So, paying attention to a dog's mental well-being is just as important as taking care of their physical health.

Remember that a healthy and happy dog starts with proper care, love, and understanding from their owners. By being attentive to their needs and providing a stress-free environment, we can help our canine companions live their best lives.

Tips For Reducing Stress In Dogs During Specific Situations

Some common situations that may cause stress in dogs are:

  • Separation anxiety: Dogs can experience separation anxiety when left alone, causing them to exhibit destructive or vocal behaviors.
  • Traveling: The unfamiliar sights and sounds of traveling can be stressful for dogs, especially if they are not used to it.
  • Thunderstorms or fireworks: Loud noises from thunderstorms or fireworks can trigger anxiety in dogs.

To Reduce Stress In These Situations, Consider:

  • Gradually acclimate your dog to being alone through short periods of separation and positive reinforcement.
  • You are introducing your dog to new environments and experiences at a young age to help them feel more comfortable.
  • Providing a safe and quiet space for your dog during thunderstorms or fireworks, and using sound-masking techniques such as white noise or calming music.

Remember to always be patient with your dog and provide them with the support they need during these stressful situations. With time and proper care, you can help your dog build resilience and cope with stress more effectively.


Should I Be Worried If My Dog Is Constantly Stressed?

If you notice your dog exhibiting chronic stress behaviors, it's important to address the issue and provide them with proper care. Chronic stress can negatively affect a dog's physical and mental health, so seeking professional help may be necessary.

Can I Give My Dog Medication For Stress?

Medication should only be given under the guidance of a veterinarian. While some dogs may benefit from medication to manage stress, it should always be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques and environmental changes.

Can I Help My Dog Overcome Past Trauma Or Abuse?

With patience, love, and proper care, dogs can overcome past traumatic experiences and learn to trust again. Seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or veterinarian for personalized advice on how to help your dog recover from past trauma.


Stress is a normal emotion for dogs to experience, but it's important to recognize and address it to provide them with the best care possible.

By creating a safe and comfortable environment, following a consistent routine, engaging in physical and mental activities, using calming aids, practicing positive reinforcement, and seeking professional help when needed – we can help our canine companions live happy and stress-free lives.

Remember to always approach a stressed dog with patience, understanding, and love.  So, let's work together to keep our dogs healthy and happy both physically and mentally!

Happy dog, happy life! 🐾

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