11 Tell Tale Signs That Your Dog Is Stressed

Stress is not only a human trait, in fact our furry friends go through the motions too. Although they don’t have a job they hate, or a boss that’s pushing them to the limits they are still susceptible to copious amounts of stress. 

You’re probably wondering:

“How do I know if my dog is stressed?”

It’s a great question, afterall, they can’t talk or slam down their phones.

Your doggo will display stress in a much more subtle way, making it quite tricky to know whether they’re truly stressed, or just in a grump. 

It’s why we decided to compose a list of 11 easy signs of a stressed dog, without further ado, let’s begin.


You won’t need me to tell you about shedding, you’re probably well aware, however, it’s one of the tell tale signs that your dog is stressed. This is perhaps the most difficult sign to notice on our list, because let’s be honest: dog’s shed, a lot. 

So how are you supposed to tell the difference between normal shedding and ‘stress shedding’? 

It’s simple, try to keep a mental note of what constitutes a ‘normal amount of shedding’ for your dog, if you begin to notice an abnormal increase in shedding it may be a sign that your furry friend is feeling some acute stress symptoms. 

It’s all in the eyes

Much like stressed humans, you’ll be able to notice significant differences in their eyes if they’re feeling stressed. If your dog begins to blink rapidly and often displays dilated pupils, it could be a sign of some early stress. 

If your dogs eyelids are peeled all the way back and display a solid white colour they’re stressed. On the other hand if it’s red then its a sign that your dog needs more sleep. 

In conclusion you’ll usually be able to just tell. Similar to how you can see stress in humans, you’ll be able to see the same in dogs. 


Pacing and Shaking

Similar to humans, excessive pacing signifies restlessness. More often than not, this is a key indicator of stress. Your dog will be pacing because they can’t rest, mainly attributed to excessive stress. This restlessness may also lead to a bite, so be cautious in these situations. 

Shaking is another key indicator, whilst completely natural (you’ll probably see this after a walk) it can also mean stress. 

Don’t believe me? Take your dog to the vet and you’ll quickly see the pacing/shaking that we’re talking about. 

This is completely normal at the vet but if your furry friend is showing the same signs at home, something isn’t right. We’ll be discussing how to combat these signs down below!


It’s all in the ears

Whilst that “puppy eyes” expression is mega cute, it can actually be a sign of stress too! If your canines ears are pinned back/laid back. Many dogs will pin their ears back if they become uneasy/stressed so it’s vital that you spot this sign the moment it happens so you can take proactive measures to minimise the stress. 

So if you notice excessive ‘cute ears’ it may be time to pay closer attention. 


Grumpy Growling

All dogs growl and it’s completely normal too, it’s exactly the same as when a human ‘snaps’ and has a little go at a coworker or family member. But it shouldn’t be common, if you notice your canine friend begin to start growling more than before, it’s a clear indicator that somethings not right, usually stress.  

Dogs that are nervous/stressed may bark/whine to get your attention, a subtle but clear indication that they need you. 

It’s not just barking/growling though, any form of excess vocalisation such as whimpering/whining can mean the same thing too! 

It’s a common misconception for pet owners that growling = misbehaving, but this is often not the case so it can be damaging for you to discipline your pet when this happens. Much like humans there is a reason for their growling (shouting in humans) and it’s important to get to the bottom of it, because it’s unlikely to be for no reason. 

If you get your dog in trouble for growling they will associate growling with a negative stimuli and may go straight to a bite. Simply respect their space and come back later to smooth things over.

Body Language 

This is probably the most obvious one on the list, buts it’s just as important. If you notice your dog appearing ‘stressed’ you’re probably right. But how do I tell?

None knows your furry friend as well as you, so I can’t tell you exactly, you’ll most likely have the best idea of when your dog is ‘acting strange’, and more often than not, it’s a sign of stress or in some cases, something more serious.

Either way, the issues need to be addressed asap!

In N Out

I’m not talking about the fast food restaurant, best ‘fast food’ can be a sign of stress. More specifically how fast your dog is ingesting (and ejecting) the food. 

Whilst most dogs finish their ‘din dins’ in seconds, it can be a sign that they are stressed. 

As we mentioned before, if your furry friend is experiencing diarrhea and constipation, these are also clear indicators of underlying stress (not just bad diet)

Licking their “you know whats”

A common situation most dog owners experience, usually during a stroll through the dog park when you’re meeting a new owner and your pup decides now's the best time to clean their privates. 

This is completely normal, but the second you start to notice excessive ‘cleaning’ you should probably pay attention as it can signal uneasiness/stress.  In fact it’s a natural canine response to stress (explaining why it happens around new dogs/people) 

Only the tail will tell

You know what we’re talking about, when your furry friend is feeling anxious/scared they’ll often tuck their tail right between their legs. This is most commonly seen when there is a storm or if they are around intimidating figures, but it can also be a clear cut sign that your dog is feeling stressed. 


Perhaps one of the more uncommon signs of stress, but still just as important as the other ones on our list. If you begin to notice your dog ‘freezing up’ as their muscles begin to tense more frequently then it’s probably a sign that they’re stressed. 

Dog training professionals refer to this as ‘shutting down’ and it occurs when your dog feels overwhelmed or stressed, either way it’s important to address this straight away. 


Another point on this list that is similar to humans, who can recall those times as a child where you would pack up all your things and pretend to leave, only to return 30 minutes later crying for your mummy?

It’s the same in dogs, if you notice that your furry friend is frequently running away or avoiding you then it’s most likely due to stress. This is often a result that occurs when they have built up tension over an extended period of time. 

How should I calm my dog down? 

Stress is often a reflection of what you’re going through as an owner, it rubs off on your furry friend more than you might think. For example if you’re feeling stressed at work your dog will likely see the side effects and become stressed themselves. 

You must be familiar with your dogs natural persona, this way you’ll be able to tell if they begin to act up. When this happens it’s important to know how to effectively calm them down.

The first step is to remove them from the ‘stressor’, this can be down by finding a secluded, quiet place with minimal external stimuli. The stressor may be quite obvious such as a human/dog or it may be quite subtle, either way it’s important that you completely remove this stressor if possible.

Secondly, try not to overdo it with the cuddling/comforting, this may lead to further stress, it’s important to give them their space and if they approach you for some cuddles then by all means go for it!

If your dog becomes constantly stressed you should take him to a veterinarian straight away, this is likely an underlying issue and not a temporary one. 

Much like with humans, exercise is perhaps the best way to cope with high levels of stress, it releases serotonin into the bloodstream which is also known as the ‘happiness hormone’, make sure your furry friend is getting plenty of exercise! 

Lastly, but most importantly?

Love your furry friend.

Love is the best solution to stress and it’s no different for our beloved canines.