Just like humans, dogs use body language to let you know how they’re feeling without words. If you recognize any of these dog stress signals, it’s best to give your dog some space until they calm down.
While some dog breeds are more prone to stress, it’s best to try to identify what could be triggering dog anxiety. For help with dog training in Okemos, give us a call today.
1.) Lip Licking
Dogs lick their lips after eating. However, if the food bowl is in another room, lip licking could be a sign your dog is stressed. Dogs often lick their lips if they sense that another person or animal could be a threat. For example, your dog may lick their lips if you yell at them for peeing on the floor. Your dog doesn’t understand why you’re yelling and will lick their lips as a way to appease you.
2.) Separation Anxiety
A healthy confident dog will be happy to see you, but not devastated when you leave. While we understand how it can be flattering having your dog follow you and want snuggles, it could be a sign that they have separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety in dogs interferes with their ability to cope every time you leave the house. If your dog is attached to one person and ignores everyone else in the home, they may not be able to eat, play, or do anything else until you return. Doggy daycare can be good for separation anxiety because it helps distract your dog from missing you while you’re gone at work or school.
3.) Lifting One Paw
A stressed dog may lift one paw while sitting, to show you they don’t feel secure. If you see your dog lift their paw, don’t assume that they want to shake. Instead, give them some space until they calm down. If your dog lifts their paw while standing, this could be a sign of indecisiveness. Your dog is trying to figure out the best way to proceed.
If your dog is scratching a lot (especially in a specific spot) schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to rule out pain and skin issues. If these health concerns are ruled out, try to identify what could be stressing out your dog. For example, many dogs scratch obsessively if they spend a lot of time by themselves while you’re gone at work or school.
If your dog is bored or lonely during the day, enroll them in our doggy daycare. We fill their day with plenty of play time and snuggles so they can maintain physical and mental well-being.
If your dog is yawning a lot, consider the context. If it’s the end of the day or they just returned from doggy daycare, they’re probably just tired. However, dogs may also yawn if they’re frustrated. For example, your dog may yawn if they don’t understand something during a training session. In this case, we’d recommend finishing the dog training session with a command they know well and rewarding them. If your dog is yawning in the middle of the day, they could need a mental break and some space.
Many people are surprised to learn that it’s not just intact male dogs that mount. Both male and female dogs that have been neutered or spayed may still mount, which is considered normal behavior. However, mounting may also be a sign of stress, especially when your dog encounters new people, animals, and situations.
7.) Shaking Out Fur
Despite Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off,” dogs that frequently shake out their fur usually do so from stress. Shaking out their fur can help them relieve stress and anxiety. For example, your dog may be letting go of stress after a visitor leaves by shaking out their coat.
Just like humans, dogs can become hypervigilant after a traumatic experience. Dogs that are hypervigilant may hide or pace the house scanning for threats. It’s also not uncommon for dogs to bark or whine a lot while under a lot of stress. If your dog is acting hypervigilant, give them the space they need to calm down. Petting or trying to talk to them in soothing tones may only upset them more.
9.) Constantly Licking Self or Others
Staring into a dog’s eyes can be considered a threat. For this reason, your dog may feel more comfortable licking themselves than having to meet the gaze of an unfamiliar human or animal.
While dogs can smell better than humans, sniffing excessively could be a sign that your dog is stressed. If your dog is sniffing the air, they may smell something that upsets them. For example, dogs can sometimes smell if coyotes or other large predators have been near the house. Even if the smell is outside, your dog may still be able to detect threats on the breeze while in the safety of your home.