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Do you know how to tell if your dog is stressed? Loud noises, a new environment or even our own busy lifestyle can stress out our pets.
Excessive barking, trembling, raised hackles, lowered ears, shedding fur and aggression are all signs your dog is stressed.
It’s very easy to overlook basic signals or even misinterpret them. Once you have an understanding of how your furbaby behaves, you will both have a better relationship and happier life.
A Dog Body Language Chart is a great place to start and we’ve included a number of versions that will give you great insights. We’ve also included how to read your cat’s body language and the safest treats to feed your dog. Be sure to Pin your favorites.
Lori from ‘The Inside Poop’ has put together a brilliant article explaining some of the stress signs your Dog may be exhibiting. We encourage you to read her article so you can be on the look out for the signals. Here is an introduction to what she says.
Trembling / Shaking
This particular sign I usually always see with the smaller breeds i.e Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Maltese, etc and I’m amazed by the fact that many pet parents relate this behavior to being cold. I would completely understand why someone would confuse this stressed sign with that of a temperature issue but when you live in South Florida where the temperate is a hot and humid 90 degrees all year around it’s hard to believe that your dog might be cold.
It’s also unfortunate that pet parents misunderstand this information because then their dogs are walking around wearing sweaters or jackets! If your dog is not wet or cold and is shaking or trembling then your dog is likely experiencing a stressful situation.
Dogs who try to ignore you and pretend as if you don’t exist are exhibiting avoidance behaviors. If a dog refuses to look at you, turns their head away, or tries to back out of a situation then he/she is definitely trying to avoid you because they’re stressed out and possibly terrified of you!
This is another one of those misinterpreted behaviors similar to the trembling and shaking that pet parents get so wrong sometimes. If you have a dog who shows any of these signs in a situation where it is unwarranted then they’re showing them because they’re stressed.
Yawning when a dog isn’t sleepy or tired, panting when a dog hasn’t been in extraneous activities, licking their chops when they haven’t eaten or out of the presence of food and even scratching or licking all of a sudden are sure signs that your dog is stressed out.
Dog Body Language Video Tutorial
We have included a video tutorial that shows you how to interpret your Dogs Body Language. It is well worth watching as you will pick up plenty of tips and tricks. To view, click Play above ^
Low Ear Carriage
Many dogs who find themselves in stressful situations will show low ear carriage. Their ears will practically be glued to their skulls! Along with having low ears they’ll also show signs of avoidance behaviors, their tails will be tucked between their legs, they may or may not sit down and refuse to be sniffed if there’s another dog around and may roll over exposing their belly which translates to “PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!!!”
Now in some cases, there will be dogs who show low ear carriage but they may, in fact, be excited or happy and not at all stressed out.
Excessive barking is a dead give away for dogs who are extremely stressed or terrified and I see this behavior a lot when it comes to smaller breeds. I call my smaller breeds “land sharks” or “piranhas” because when they’re terrified they just go into these barking frenzies and look like they’re going shred you to pieces but we all know that they’re scared to death inside. You know who you are, you little chihuahuas! Usually, when they’re going through these little tirades they’ll also get very brave and lunge and snap at you and if you move back a fraction of an inch they’ll pounce and more than likely bite you! See more of Lori’s article on The Inside Poop
If you ever see your pet head pressing against a wall, you need to take your pet to the Vet immediately!
What Exactly is “Head-Pressing”?
The term “head pressing” is actually pretty descriptive—the affected pet stands close to a wall or other hard surface (furniture, the corner, etc) and literally presses the top of her head against it. It almost always signifies significant illness.
In order to be a responsible Pet Owner, you need to take precautions. If something happens to you, who will know to look after your pet, we love this Pet Emergency Card that you can pop in your purse or wallet. You can make one yourself on a piece of card or simply google ‘pet emergency card template’ and you will find loads of examples. Pick the one that suits your circumstances best and be safe in the knowledge that your pet will be protected!
While you’re here, now would be a great time to learn what you should and shouldn’t be feeding your dog. The last thing you want to do is kill them with kindness. Check out our post on Dog Safe Foods here