10 Signs Your Dog Is Stressed and How to Relieve It

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As dog owners, we try and do our best in keeping our furry friends happy. Just like with human beings, dogs can become stressed and anxious, which can be hard to bear. If you’ve noticed a change in your dog’s behavior and they seem unusually tense, it’s your job to spot the signs and take action to help soothe and relax your pooch.

There are all sorts of things that could be contributing to your dog’s stress – here are some of the common warning signs to look out for, as well as what you can do to relieve it.

Barking or Whining

If your dog is constantly barking or whining, you should pay attention to them. Although vocalization is a natural self-expression, if your dog is feeling stressed and anxious, they may whine and bark more often than usual. Canines that are frightened or on edge may begin whining and barking to grab your attention. So, rather than putting them outside to drown out the noise, listen to their needs as they may be whining or barking to self-soothe. 


Dogs can shake for all kinds of reasons. Whether they’re excited, in pain or discomfort, are reaching old age, or feeling under the weather, it’s your responsibility to differentiate between what is considered normal and what is of concern. If you’re taking your pooch to the vet and they begin shaking, this will probably be because they’re nervous about what’s to come. Many dogs are stressed when in the veterinarian’s office, so try your best to calm your dog down by giving plenty of cuddles and speaking in a soft voice. Your vet will have many years of experience in anxious dogs, meaning they will use the best methods to alleviate any fears your pooch has. 

Excessive Licking

If your furry friend is licking themselves excessively to the point where you are concerned about them, this could be a sign of boredom, pain, or anxiety. Although it’s normal for your dog to lick themselves as part of the grooming process, if they’re overdoing it, this is a signal that it may be time to visit your vet. If your dog is licking a specific area, this will indicate that something is up. It’s wise to book an appointment with your vet, as obsessive self-licking could also be a sign of allergies. 

Tucked Tail

When a dog is happy and thriving, their tail tends to whoosh from side to side. This means that, should their tail be tucked between their back paws, this is a sign that something is wrong. A tucked tail could indicate many different emotions, such as aggression, fear, and stress. As much as we would love our furry friends to speak, dogs show their emotional distress in other ways. If you have any concerns, it’s always best to talk to your vet. 

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Destructive Behavior

If you have ever returned home to find your pooch has shredded up the couch or gnashed through the doorframe, you should see destructive behavior as a cause for concern. A stressed or anxious dog will look at ways to alleviate uncomfortable feelings, even if this means destroying household furniture and objects! Rather than getting stressed yourself, try and understand the reasons behind why your dog is being destructive. You may find that your pooch has separation anxiety which is causing them to play up. There are things you can do such as hiring a pet sitter to take your dog for walks while you’re at work or leaving the television or radio on at a low volume which can soothe them. Thanks to technology, you can purchase a camera that allows you to see your pooch when you’re away from home. 


In addition to destructive behavior, your dog may be showing signs of aggression that need to be tackled immediately. If your pooch is normally warm and friendly, you will know within an instant that something is seriously wrong. When dogs become stressed and anxious, they may not know how to channel their emotions. Instead, they may show signs of aggression which usually involves biting, snapping, or growling. There are various things you can do to tackle this, such as ensuring your dog’s exercising regularly, as well as talking to your vet. 


Believe it or not, short-term or long-term hiccups in your dog can be a sign of stress and anxiety. While the occasional hiccup isn’t anything to worry about, constant bouts of dog hiccups need to be addressed. Hiccups can also be caused by general excitement, making it hard to establish whether your dog is happy or in distress. Native Pet has a guide you might want to look at if you need to cure dog hiccups. Native Pet is a food and nutrition business that creates organic, highly effective pet supplements for dogs, so they are experts in the field. If you would rather avoid vet bills, your dog may benefit from water, massages and a slow walk which could get rid of their hiccups. 

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Urinary Accidents

Inappropriate urination could be a sign of a serious medical issue, including kidney disease, a urinary tract infection, or diabetes. However, in some cases, it can stem from high levels of anxiety. Paying close attention to where and when your dog urinates should help you spot whether they’re feeling stressed. If your pooch urinates at a vet appointment, when a stranger comes to your house, or around other dogs, this is usually associated with stress. Although it can be a nightmare if your dog is urinating in spots that they shouldn’t be, the last thing you should do is punish them. Instead, it’s wise to seek professional help to look at ways to combat their stress and anxiety. 


Like humans, dogs will yawn when they’re feeling tired and sleepy, but the type of yawn they do can also signal that they’re stressed. To differentiate between the two, a stressful yawn is normally more intense and prolonged than a sleepy yawn. While an occasional yawn is completely normal, excessive yawning could signal stress or anxiety. If you believe your canine is yawning because they’re anxious, you must do what you can to calm them down and feel more relaxed. 

Ear Positioning

There is nothing cuter than your dog’s droopy ears flapping in the wind as you take them on a walk. However, you must pay attention to your pooch’s ear positioning as this can also be a red flag of stress and anxiety. When a dog pins their ears back tightly against their head, this is them indicating to you that they feel uneasy. On the flip side, your dog’s ears may be rigid and forward when they’re feeling threatened. Your vet will be able to explain the key differences between ear positionings, helping you to work out how your dog is feeling. 

Remember, your dog can get stressed just as easily as you can. If you notice a change in your canine’s behavior and aren’t sure what to do, don’t hesitate in making an appointment with your vet. Once your dog is given the right treatment, you should notice a vast improvement in their mood which can help them feel more relaxed and content at home.