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How Stress Can Impact Your Pet’s Behavior

Themes :
anxiety behaviour
Published on 5 July 2021

Many pet owners wish their dogs could just tell them when they’re stressed, but most don’t realize that they already do.

It’s common for pet anxiety to affect pet behavior. However, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between pet stress and normal pet behavior. This is because some signs of stress are at times normal and at other times not normal.

So many pets remain stressed while their owners have no idea. In this article, you will learn all about pet behavior explained. Continue reading to find out more about your dog’s unspoken signs of stress.

Signs of Pet Anxiety

Dogs become stressed when they see other dogs, when they see strangers, at the vet’s office, and when their environment is changing. However, stress is unique to each dog.

One dog that is fearful of strangers may show signs of stress while another dog doesn’t. Likewise, just because you’ve seen your pet respond to a stressful situation one way doesn’t mean that’s their only stress response.

Being aware of your surroundings and the below signs will help make you aware of your dog’s stress levels. It will also help you understand what situations to avoid or alter in the future.


Panting is common in hot temperatures, but it’s also a behavior related to pet stress. Because of this, it’s sometimes difficult for owners to tell the difference between normal pet behavior and stress.

The easiest way to tell if your dog is stressed is to consider the situation. Is it unusually hot or has your dog been exercising?

If the answer is yes, then they may just be cooling down. However, if the answer is no, consider what else might be going on to cause this stress response.

Licking, Yawning, and Drooling

Some of the most common dog behavior changes related to stress involve the mouth. Dogs will lick their lips, yawn, and drool when stressed. Some pet owners wrongfully assume this is because they’re hungry or thirsty.

However, keep in mind that there are other reasons for your dog to behave like this. For example, nausea can make dogs lick their lips and drool. So, consider their surroundings and decide which makes the most sense.

Expression and Posture

Your dog’s expression might change when anxious. Dogs should have relaxed ears and almond-shaped eyes when calm.

Pet anxiety causes their ears to tense and stands alert. The inner flap of the ear may turn red. Their eyes widen and dilate while their mouth becomes tense at the sides.

Likewise, their posture may change. Your dog may crouch low to the ground with a hunched back. They may also tuck their tail between their legs and become rigid.

Hiding or Avoidance

In uncomfortable situations, your dog may choose to hide. Hiding and avoidance can mean literally hiding beneath a bed, table, or person. It can also mean looking or walking away (sometimes even pacing).

If your dog is hiding or avoiding a situation, it’s worth removing them from the situation. If your dog is generally anxious, it’s a great way to identify some positive reinforcement training opportunities.


Trembling is one of those pet behavior changes that seem to occur suddenly. It’s also one of the most common stress signs noticed by owners because it occurs so quickly and is so out of the ordinary.


Shedding is common in many breeds, especially at certain times of the year, but it can also result due to severe stress. However, this can also be a sign of other health conditions. If you notice sudden and severe shedding in your dog, talk with your dog’s veterinarian.

Whining or Barking

Most dogs don’t bark or whine for no reason. Even when it may seem like there is no obvious cause of stress. However, whining or barking is common among dog behavior issues.

Some dogs bark to scare away what is causing them stress such as strangers. It can also result from separation anxiety, fear of other dogs, or unknown sounds.

If your dog is whining or barking, there is almost always a reason. To correct the issue, it’s important to try to locate the source of the anxiety.

Abnormal Accidents

One of the most surprising dog behavior changes for pet owners is the one that affects potty habits. Pet parents are often shocked when bringing their pet to the vet only to have them urinate or defecate all over the floor. It’s especially surprising if it’s an uncommon issue.

However, this is a dog behavior issue that results from stress. Dogs can also develop sudden diarrhea as a result of stress. This reaction causes owners to worry that their dog is sick instead of stressed.

To differentiate the two, it’s worth talking with your dog’s vet. They can provide treatments necessary to relieve your dog’s stress or treat other issues resulting in accidents or diarrhea.

How to Help These Dog Behavior Issues

If you want to avoid or correct these common signs of pet stress, start by learning your dog’s normal demeanor. To do this, watch them when they are relaxing at home on a normal day.

Then, see how their behavior changes in different situations. Even minor changes in behavior can signify stress.

Once you’ve determined the difference between your dog when they’re relaxed vs when they’re stressed, you can start to help them. Use positive reinforcement training techniques to change their association with their stressors. You can also talk with your dog’s vet about calming aids made with quality ingredients.

Help Ease Pet Anxiety

Help ease pet anxiety by learning about what it looks like. Pay attention to how your dog acts at home when they are most relaxed. Then, pay attention to any changes and what might cause those changes.

Don’t forget that some signs of stress might seem completely normal. So, it’s important to pay attention to the situation to see if the behavior is normal or stress-related. The more attention you give, the more prepared you are to help them.

To learn more about how stress affects our daily lives, head to our blog.

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