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Is My Dog Nervous or Anxious?

Do you always know how your dog is feeling? While a wagging tail, upright ears and playful body language are clear indicators of a happy pooch, it can be tricky to identify other, more subtle doggy feelings.

But with a little practice, you can learn how to recognize your pooch’s body language, mood and emotions. This is especially important if you think your dog is stressed or unhappy but can be hard as some traits may also be a sign of a happier emotions.

So what signs should you look for if you think your dog may be nervous or anxious?

4 Signs That Your Dog Is Nervous or Anxious


dog curled up in its bed


1. Staring, Wide Eyes

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul! In the case of our pooches, a quick look at their eyes alone can tell you everything you need to know about how they’re feeling.

An intense and direct stare (often with no blinking), or quick, excessive eye movements (often with lots of blinking!) can be signs that your pet is concerned. Other signs include your dog trying to look away or showing the whites of their eyes more clearly than usual (also known as ‘whale eye’).

These are all early signs that your dog is nervous or uncomfortable. Youshould try and address the source of their discomfort before they feel any worse or react in a stronger way.

2. Ears Angled Backwards

What do your dog’s ears look like? If your pet has upright, alert ears this could be a sign that they are listening out for trouble. Forward ears are often a happier signal, showing that your pet is curious or interested. However, if ears are angled backwards or almost flat to their head, this is a sign that they are feeling worried or scared. For many dogs, their ears are a very clear body language indicator, though if your dog breed has floppy ears, these signs may be harder to distinguish.

3. Vocalizing or Pulled-Back Lips

Sometimes the best way to show how we feel is to say it! For your dog, vocal signs like whimpering, whining, barking or growling are all ways to say, ‘I’m not happy!’ A dog that is growling, with or without lips raised, is a sign of extreme fear and indicates that your dog may be preparing to bite.

4. Trembling, Cowering, Hiding or ‘Frozen’ Body Language

What does your pet’s posture look like? Are they shaking or trembling? Is their tail tucked down between their legs or are they trying to hide?

There are lots of body language signals to watch for that show your pet is nervous or anxious. Hiding or trying to escape, are common responses to fear or anxiety. Your dog may disappear behind furniture, cower in a corner, or vanish under blankets for safety.

Or, your dog may also seem to be frozen in one place.They may be looking away or have one paw lifted as though they are going to run andyet can’t seem to get away! Your dog’s body posture during this will also be down, meaning their head , ears and tail will all be lowered as well. This may be hard to distinguish from them being on the ‘alert’, for example if they are waiting for a ball to be thrown. However, once you take into consideration your dog’s entire body and the situation, you will soon learn to recognize the difference.

Get to know your unique pooch!

When you are familiar with your dog, it’s easy to tell when they are not feeling themselves! So get to know your pooch. Watch how they look and act when they feel happy and relaxed, so you can recognize their particular stress and anxiety indicators. Not all dogs will show the same signals when they feel nervous, try to identify how your pooch responds to nervousness or uncertainty.

Remember, these signals may not always mean ‘I’m nervous!’. It’s important to consider the wider context of how your dog is acting and the situation they are in, to understand how they feel.

Prevent Your Dog From Becoming Stressed

Being able to recognize exactly when your dog is nervous or stressed, will enable you to calm them, remove them from the situation when possible, and prevent their fear from escalating.

For some particularly nervous dogs, training may help them to manage their fear, and prevent them from associating certain situations or objects with anxiety.

Using ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser can also help to calm, relax and reassure your dog, particularly in situations that are often stressful, such as around fireworks, visitors, or when your pet is home alone. With a little help and understanding, you’ll soon be able to recognise how your pooch feels and create the right calm and comforting environment for them!



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