Signs Your Dog is Stressed and How to Relieve It

How to Identify and Relieve Critical Signs of Stress in Your Dog

Dogs, just like people, can feel stressed. When they are stressed, it can affect their health and happiness. It’s important for us to know how to spot the signs of stress in our dogs so we can help them feel better. In this guide, we will learn about the common signs that show a dog is stressed and some simple ways to help them relax. By understanding and caring for our dogs’ needs, we can keep them happy and healthy.

Showing the dog is stressed

Recognizing the Symptoms of Stress in Dogs

Behavioral Changes

One of the primary indicators of stress in dogs is a noticeable change in their behavior. Dogs under stress might exhibit the following behavioral signs:

  • Excessive Barking or Whining: Continuous vocalizations can indicate that your dog is feeling anxious or uncomfortable.
  • Aggression: Stress can cause normally docile dogs to become aggressive towards other animals or humans.
  • Withdrawal: A stressed dog may become less social, choosing to hide or isolate themselves.
  • Destructive Behavior: Chewing furniture, digging holes, or other destructive activities can be a manifestation of stress.
  • Restlessness: Pacing or an inability to settle down can be signs that your dog is experiencing stress.

Physical Symptoms

In addition to behavioral changes, stress in dogs can also manifest through physical symptoms:

  • Excessive Panting: While panting is normal, excessive panting without physical exertion can be a sign of stress.
  • Shaking or Trembling: Dogs may shake or tremble when they are anxious or scared.
  • Dilated Pupils: Enlarged pupils can indicate that a dog is stressed.
  • Loss of Appetite: A stressed dog might eat less or refuse food altogether.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Stress can lead to vomiting or diarrhea in dogs.

Changes in Body Language

Body language is a powerful tool for understanding how your dog is feeling. Key signs of stress in a dog’s body language include:

  • Tucked Tail: A tail tucked between the legs is a common sign of fear or anxiety.
  • Pinned-Back Ears: Ears that are flattened against the head can indicate stress or discomfort.
  • Lip Licking and Yawning: These can be subtle signs of stress, especially if they occur frequently and out of context.
  • Avoiding Eye Contact: A stressed dog might avoid making eye contact with you or other animals.

Common Causes of Stress in Dogs

Understanding the root causes of your dog’s stress is essential for effective management. Some common stressors for dogs include:

  • Environmental Changes: Moving to a new home, changes in routine, or the introduction of new pets or family members can all be stressful.
  • Loud Noises: Thunderstorms, fireworks, and other loud noises can cause significant anxiety in dogs.
  • Separation Anxiety: Dogs who are very attached to their owners might experience stress when left alone.
  • Health Issues: Pain or discomfort from an illness or injury can be a source of stress for dogs.
  • Lack of Socialization: Dogs that are not properly socialized may experience stress in unfamiliar situations or around new people and animals.

Effective Strategies to Relieve Stress in Dogs

Creating a Calm Environment

Ensuring your dog has a safe and quiet space to retreat to can significantly help in reducing stress. Consider the following tips:

  • Designate a Safe Space: Create a comfortable area in your home where your dog can relax without disturbances.
  • Use Calming Aids: Products such as pheromone diffusers, calming collars, and anxiety wraps can help create a soothing environment.
  • Maintain a Routine: Consistency in feeding, walking, and playtime can provide a sense of security for your dog.

Behavioral Training and Desensitization

Training and gradual exposure to stressors can help your dog become more resilient:

  • Positive Reinforcement: Rewarding your dog for calm behavior can encourage them to stay relaxed in stressful situations.
  • Desensitization: Gradually exposing your dog to the source of their stress in a controlled manner can help them become accustomed to it over time.
  • Obedience Training: Teaching your dog basic commands can help manage their behavior and reduce stress.

Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are vital for a dog’s overall well-being:

  • Daily Walks: Ensure your dog gets adequate physical exercise to help burn off excess energy and reduce anxiety.
  • Interactive Toys: Provide toys and puzzles that challenge your dog’s mind and keep them engaged.
  • Playtime: Engage in regular play sessions with your dog to strengthen your bond and provide a positive outlet for their energy.

Diet and Nutrition

A well-balanced diet can have a significant impact on your dog’s stress levels:

  • High-Quality Food: Ensure your dog’s diet is rich in essential nutrients to support their overall health.
  • Hydration: Keep your dog well-hydrated, as dehydration can exacerbate stress symptoms.
  • Supplements: Consult your veterinarian about supplements that can support your dog’s mental and physical health.

CBD for Dogs

According to Waltham Petcare, CBD (cannabidiol) is becoming an increasingly popular option for managing stress in dogs. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is non-psychoactive and has shown promising results in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation in dogs. Here are some ways CBD can help:

  • Anxiety Reduction: CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to promote a sense of calm and well-being.
  • Pain Relief: For dogs experiencing stress due to pain, CBD can help manage pain and improve their overall comfort.
  • Improved Sleep: CBD can help regulate sleep patterns, ensuring your dog gets restful and restorative sleep.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects can benefit dogs with stress-related health issues.

Before introducing CBD into your dog’s routine, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it is a suitable option for your pet.

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups with your veterinarian are crucial for identifying and addressing any health issues that might be causing stress:

  • Routine Examinations: Schedule regular vet visits to ensure your dog is in good health.
  • Pain Management: If your dog is experiencing pain, work with your vet to develop a pain management plan.
  • Medications: In severe cases, your vet may prescribe medications to help manage your dog’s anxiety.

When to Seek Professional Help

While many stress-related issues can be managed at home, some situations require professional intervention:

  • Persistent Stress: If your dog’s stress symptoms persist despite your efforts, consult a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.
  • Behavioral Issues: Aggressive or destructive behavior should be addressed with the help of a professional to prevent harm to your dog and others.
  • Severe Anxiety: Dogs with severe anxiety may benefit from specialized treatment plans developed by veterinary behaviorists.

In conclusion, identifying and relieving stress in dogs is essential for their well-being. By recognizing the signs of stress, understanding the causes, and implementing effective strategies, you can help your dog lead a happier and healthier life.


This guide is for general information only and is not a replacement for professional advice. If you think your dog is very stressed or unwell, please see a veterinarian. Every dog is different, so what works for one dog might not work for another. Always check with a vet before trying new treatments or changes.

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