How to identify anxiety in dogs
Think you’ve got an anxious dog? Read our guide on how to identify anxiety in dogs
If truth be told, it would be a million times easier if your dog could just talk to you and tell you how they’re feeling but the chances of this are near to zero. If it were true, you’d never have to stress about your dog or ask yourself ‘Is my dog anxious and unsettled?’
While dogs cannot speak as we humans do, your dog is giving you clues as whether they are feeling happy, anxious or bored, you’ve just got to notice the signs and take note. Now’s the time to get in tune with your beloved pooch and take the opportunity to figure out your dog’s body language so you can feel in control of the situation.
As an experienced animal shelter, the team here at Carla Lane’s Animals in Need have decoded signs of dog anxiety so you don’t have to!
If your dog is curling their tail up under their tummy it’s a sign they are lacking confidence or they are scared. One thing to consider is how tightly their tail is tucked up as this might indicate just how anxious or frightened your dog is. Do not ignore this tell tale sign of anxiety in your dog.
When dogs pin their ears back against their head it can indicate that they are anxious, scared or excited.
Think of this one as a dog trying to curl in on themselves to seem smaller, or even to disappear. It often occurs in combination with a tucked tail and is a really obvious sign to many that your dog is feeling uncomfortable and anxious.
Shaking or shivering
This can indicate discomfort or fear. It could be a sign your dog is cold but it could also mean they are scared and anxious.
Nose or lip licking
Commonly referred to as “tongue flicking,” this action often occurs two or three times in quick succession. You may well see your dog licking when something has changed in their normal environment or a new trigger has emerged. Of course, if you’re cooking or preparing food and you see your dog doing this, they are probably just hopeful that they’ll be getting some of your meal!
In many instances, yawning is a stress release. If you see your dog yawning, it’s likely that their anxiety levels are high. Take for example, if you’re on a walk, or in an unfamiliar place, and you see your dog yawning, it’s time to take note and remove your dog from the situation. If you’re at home getting ready for a nap or waking up in the morning and you see your dog yawn, they are probably just tired.
Panting can help your dog to cool down, after for example exercise or in extreme heat but it can also occur when a dog is stressed. If you’ve not taken your dog out for a walk, and it’s not hot outside, it’s likely your dog is feeling anxious.
Rolling onto their back
While most people think dogs rolling onto their backs indicate they are being submissive, it could also mean that they are trying to communicate to you that they’re no threat. Often, in times of stress, dogs will roll onto their backs but they can also do it as part of a healthy and very natural part of play behaviour. What’s more, they may just want a belly rub!
Showing the whites of their eyes
Whale eye is the term for when the whites of your dog’s eye show, often when they’re attempting to look at or look away from something without wanting to move their entire head (i.e., look without looking). This shows that your dog is experiencing high anxiety or fear.
Many dogs drool when they’re about to get fed but dogs also drool when they are extremely fearful or frightened.
Turning or walking away
If your dog turns away from someone walking towards them, it’s a tell tale sign that your dog is trying to communicate that they aren’t a threat. For whatever reason, your dog is trying to tell you the approaching person is making them anxious or unsettled. If you notice this behaviour, never force your dog to do something they don’t want to do as they may be into a natural defence mode.