5 telltale signs of stress in dogs and how you can help

Know these signs of stress in dogs so that you can help your canine friend

signs your dog is stressed
(Image credit: Lisa Fotios from Pexels)

If you're looking for signs of stress in dogs, then you may be concerned for your pooch's wellbeing. So, how do you know if your dog is stressed?  

If you've never owned a dog before, it can be difficult to tell between a dog that's being a naughty and one that needs your help because it's scared, threatened, or sick. 

What causes dog stress? 

It can be down to different factors, but, with the current state of affairs, it's totally normal for many house pets to, in fact, feel added pressure from our own uncertainties. Look at these simple stressed dog signs to know if there's something amiss – and take your dog to see a vet if you can't identify the reason. 

1. Your dog is barking excessively

Some dog breeds are more vocal than others, but a dog that's constantly barking, or barking at odd times of the day at nothing in particular, is likely doing so to get you to pay attention to something that's bothering it. Typically this will happen because your dog is perceiving some type of threat, whether from other animals or humans, but it could indicate boredom or an underlying health issue.

Also watch out for something called 'the smile' – when your dog bares its teeth without barking. It may look funny and cute, but it's actually a sign of a stressed dog.

2. Your dog is urinating indoors

This is a classic telltale sign of a dog that's stressed, often by a house move or insufficient walking. A well trained adult dog would never pee indoors unless it's very stressed and unhappy. If you've recently changed your walking routine, you might need to reconsider. If the problem persists even with plenty of walks and attention, take your dog to a vet.

3. Your dog is shedding too much hair

Like many other animals, dogs shed in the summer, and again, you will know what's normal for your dog's breed. But if you're finding clumps of hair everywhere during the colder season, your dog is likely stressed. If you can't think of a reason, a vet visit is best.

4. Your dog is displaying unusual body language

A dog that's normally boisterous and approachable has become shy or grumpy? Or is your dog hiding behind your legs, cowering for no apparently reason, or trembling? These are all tell tale signs of a distressed canine. If your dog has regular interaction with someone else's, try to watch them as they play, as it may be the case that the other dog isn't playing nice.

5. Your dog engages in displacement activity

Although most dogs will use more explicit ways to try and alert you to their distress, some will turn to excessive grooming, genital licking, or even chewing at their own bottoms. If you notice your dog engaging in an activity to the point where it's obsessive, there's something else going on. 

As with the other signs we've listed, if you can't think of what is stressing out your dog beyond obvious things like house moves, new additions to the family, or a reduced walking regimen, you need the vet's expert opinion. It could be something as simply as a food allergy, or something more serious, especially if your dog was adopted.