Determining the Signs of Stress in Dogs 

Signs of Stress in Dogs

Dogs show signs of stress just like humans

As humans, experiencing stress is just a part of everyday life (especially over the past two years for many of us). Perhaps the signs of stress and anxiety are so familiar to you, you can recognize them when close friends and family members are dealing with them as well. And no, we are not just referring to your human relationships.

Dogs are very susceptible to stress and anxiety just like us, and for many of the same reasons: constant frustration, loss of a loved one, unfamiliar locations or situations, lack of exercise, or lack of rest. For experienced dog owners in touch with their pet’s needs, it typically isn’t hard to identify what might be stressing the animal out. However, for those less familiar with the needs of a dog, here are a few signs of stress to watch for.

Signs of stress in dogs

Signs of stress in dogs typically include excess shyness, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and incessant trembling. More subtle signs of stress in dogs may include excessive yawning, constant pacing, whites of their eyes showing all of the time, and heavy amounts of panting.

In some cases, defensive behavior is a tell-tell sign of stress in dogs. Defensive behavior shows that they are in a state of fight or flight and are hyper-aware of the need to take action against an unknown threat that could come from anywhere. These behaviors could manifest as growling, baring teeth, snapping at passersby, or growling.

What to do about it

Thankfully for many dogs, all it takes is a bit more love and affection from their owners to help alleviate stress and anxiety. There are plenty of simple steps that can be taken to help your animal feel less stressed, and it will help tremendously if you can pay attention to their day-to-day routines to try and figure out what the root cause of the stress is.

Remain calm and happy

Most dogs are highly sensitive to their owner’s mood and will be constantly reading your body language. Staying positive, smiling, and speaking in light-hearted happy tones to your dog will go a long way in helping them feel safe and secure in your presence.


How and what you feed your dog can have a big impact on its stress level. Overfeeding them, or giving them poor quality food or table scraps can lead to grumpiness and anxiety in your dog. This is because low-quality dog food and food meant for people typically contains higher levels of sugar and protein. Too much of either can wreak havoc on your dog’s health, especially if they don’t have a good outlet for exercise. Without space to exercise and burn off those extra calories/energy, your dog may appear nervous or stressed, similar to a child who’s eaten too much sugar. Talk with your vet or a pet nutritionist to determine if your dog’s diet needs to change.


Taking your dog for a walk at least once a day is essential for their mental health and wellbeing. Playing fetch with a ball or Frisbee can be even more rewarding for some breeds since they are engaging with you directly and focusing their mind on the specific job of seeking your approval while also burning energy. Some form of a game or any physical activity beyond walking them on a leash is important, so spend some time figuring out what your breed of dog is interested in doing instinctively (herding, digging, tracking, etc.) and refine the activity of off that.

Quiet time

Just like people, most dogs need a mental break and benefit greatly from a little peace and quiet during the day. If your dog is around busy crowds often and doesn’t have a separate space to retreat once in a while for a little nap or alone time, this could eventually cause them to get stressed out.

Give your dog space by taking care to remove them from the hustle and bustle for some quality time with you or by themselves. It only needs to be for a few minutes, but the benefits will be readily apparent in their mental health. This space might be an indoor or outdoor kennel, cage, or a corner in a room. Wherever it is, make sure there are familiar things where they can see and interact with that will help occupy their attention and let them know they are in a safe place.

CBD oil

This method is a little cutting edge but has certainly become widely popular over the past few years. And as a hemp manufacturing company full of dog lovers, we would be remiss to not mention the benefits of introducing CBD to your dog’s diet. Like humans, dogs can benefit tremendously from taking CBD, and it is a great alternative to expensive prescription drugs that can have serious long-term side effects on their health. CBD oils are loaded with amino acids, anti-inflammatory agents, limonene, pinene, caryophyllene, and humulene.

Start with tiny doses by dropping some oil into canned dog food or some other special treat they enjoy. Increase the dose for a week or two until you begin to notice their behavior change. You will likely see their energy increase, as well as their responsiveness to you. Not only will they be less stressed, but they will also be much greater companions overall, increasing the quality of your bond with them.

You know your dog better than anyone else. Their body language, actions, and other nonverbal communication cues should be very familiar to you, so if you notice something different about them, chances are something is giving them unneeded stress. Do not ignore these signs, and at the very least, try one of the solutions above, or don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian. A little extra love and attention will go a long way in ensuring greater health and well-being for your special furry friend.