How Dogs Show They're Stressed
You see your puppy pull his ears back in an incredibly endearing way. He is so cute, you can hardly keep yourself from bursting into oohs and ahhs, pulling out your camera to snap a quick picture for the gram. But that adorable mannerism that you think is cute may not be so cute after all, especially if that mannerism turns out to be a sign of stress. Dogs may be unable to speak, but they can use their body language to communicate unease. Watch out for these signs.
Pressing Ear Against Head
A dog pressing his ears against his head is showing you that he is stressed or anxious. Make sure to take note of your dog’s ear positioning. If your dog’s ears are pinned back or if his ears are not in its normal position, he may be stressed. Detecting stress from ear positioning may be more difficult if your dog has floppy ears. If that’s the case, take context into consideration. Did your dog’s ear shift after a particular event or moment? Do you think that event or moment can be stress-inducing?
Panting and Drooling
Have you ever noticed your dog drool and pant during a specific situation, such as a car ride, a visit to the vet, or a run in with a bigger, meaner dog? Although panting and drooling often occur when your dog is tired after a long run, it is also a sign of stress. The difference between stressed-induced and temperature-induced drooling and panting is the quantity. If your dog is drooling excessively despite the absence of excessive exercise or heat, then stress is likely the cause.
Like humans, dogs also feel butterflies in their stomachs when they are anxious. Though vomiting can be a sign of a serious illness (check with your veterinarian), vomiting can simply be a sign of stress and anxiety. Pay careful attention to when your dog vomits. Does she vomit during or immediately after a particularly stressful situation? The most common stressful situations dog may have stressed-induced vomiting is during a car ride or being in a room full of other dogs. If you’re worried your dog is seriously ill, take her to the vet.
Destroying Shoes or Furniture
Movies, like Marley & Me and Because of Winn-Dixie, portray bad dogs as rowdy animals that bite and chew on every shoe and every furniture. But destructive behavior many not necessarily mean the dog is ill-mannered and maladjusted. In fact, the dog may simply be stressed out. Yes, destructive behavior in the form of destroying household objects can be a sign that your dog is anxious. If your dog is destroying your home while also licking and biting themselves, your dog doesn’t have an attitude problem. He is simply stressed out.
Tucking Tail Between Legs
You’ve seen this behavior before, usually when the dog has done some wrong or when you’re reprimanding her. For example, your dog will hang her head down and tuck her tail between her legs when you find her in the bathroom, torn up toiletries littering the floor. Or when she snagged a steak from the countertop, and you give her a stern scolding. Dogs tuck their tail between their legs when they are afraid or anxious. So the next time you scold your dog and you see her tail between her legs, remember that your dog is afraid of you.
Dogs can’t speak, but when it comes to certain emotions, such as stress, fear, and anxiety, their body language will try to communicate the feelings to you. All you have to do is watch and listen.