Is Your Dog Uncomfortable?

Dogs show their anxiety and stress in a variety of different ways, some more subtle than others but all signs that we as dogs owners should be familiar with.   It is important that dogs have ways to communicate with us when they are uncomfortable in a given situation.  It is even more important that we be able to read those signs and act accordingly.

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Some common signs of anxiety or discomfort in dogs include:

  • Half Moon Eye/Whale Eye – This is where a dog will look slightly sideways and show the whites of the eye. It can be accompanied by a freeze, growl, stiffening or other warning signs and is seen quite often when a dog is put in an uncomfortable situation and isn’t sure what to do next.
  • Lip and Nose Licking – Completely unrelated to the licking you see when a dog has finished eating or chewing something, this licking of the nose and mouth area is often followed by other signs of stress and has an almost manic quality to it.
  • Yawning – When your dog yawns, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is tired. Stress yawning is often done with more intensity than a normal yawn and often repeated many times in a row.
  • Panting – When the weather is not overly warm and there has been little physical activity, panting, especially when accompanied by a tightness in the mouth, eyes and pinned ears, can indicate a stress response in your dog
  • Ears Pinned Back – Some dogs, when relaxed, will put their ears back. When it is obvious your dog is not relaxed and you see this gesture, it is likely he is unhappy and somewhat stressed.
  • Avoidance – When a dog is stressed, anxious or uncomfortable, they will often try to avoid the situation. When you see a dog looking away, turning themselves completely away from something, acting otherwise occupied by sniffing excessively or just simply not paying attention, chances are they are practicing avoidance.
  • Shedding – All dogs shed, but in times of stress or when anxious, the shedding can often be excessive and spontaneous.
  • Refusing Food or Treats – When anxious, even the most food motivated dogs may refuse to eat or take treats.
  • Restlessness and Pacing – An anxious dog may not be able to settle down or relax at all, instead pacing or moving about erratically and without real purpose.

While absolutely not complete, this list serves as a list of some of the more common signs of anxiety, stress and calming signals in a dog when under duress of some sort.  It should be understood that not all dogs react this way to the same situations.  What makes one dog anxious may mean absolutely nothing to another dog.  Know the signs that your dog is upset and react accordingly as the particular situation demands.

Do you notice any particular signs that your dog exhibits when he is upset? What situations upset him?