Our dogs can get overwhelmed and stressed by many different things. What may seem small to us, like walking past a person you’ve never seen before, can cause immense stress to a dog.
This is why it’s really important for us to know when our dog is feeling this way, as they can’t just tell us. We all want our dogs to be happy, healthy and anxiety-free, so here’s a few tell-tale signs that your dog may be experiencing stress.
1. Excessive barking
Why do dogs bark? It's a popular question. Dogs bark for so many different reasons, or even for no reason at all! They can be especially loud when they want to be, but it’s important to note when it may be becoming an issue. Dogs may react badly to certain situations that cause them heightened anxiety or stress, leading them to bark. This could be that they are warning you of a potential risk or trying to ward off the potential threat themselves. So, if you can’t find any obvious reasons for excessive barking, then it may well be stress-related.
This is a very obvious sign that your dog may be feeling unsettled. This can often happen when they are startled, much like humans, but also when they are very nervous of their environment and surroundings. It may be beneficial for your dog to be introduced to new situations slowly to try and avoid them shaking, otherwise they could become more stressed.
Your dog could act in an aggressive way if they feel uncomfortable. Being aggressive may not be their intention, as they are often just trying to warn the people or dogs around them that they are feeling stressed. If dogs are told off for growling in stressful situations, this could eliminate the growl but could replace it with a more severe form of aggression, such as biting.
4. Changes in body language
Dogs may suddenly change their body language to try and cope with a stressful situation. This can be one of the first signs of stress related behaviour. Some examples include excessive panting, lip licking, tucking their tail between their legs, pulled back ears and yawning. Your dog may also freeze on the spot if they feel they are helpless in a situation. Freezing can lead to outbursts of aggression due to the dog not knowing how to cope, so removing them from the stress could really help.
5. Toilet habit changes
This is often a very obvious indicator that your dog is stressed. They may want to urinate around the house or in an unfamiliar territory where they don’t feel safe to make themselves feel more secure. This is how dogs mark their territory, so it’s in their nature to do this, especially when anxious. Your pup may also experience an unsettled stomach due to stress. This could also be down to eating something they shouldn’t, so it would be important to explore different avenues when trying to assess your pup.