Early Signs of Anxiety

Most of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives and can recognize it in others — what most don’t realize is that their dogs get anxious too.  Most dog owners can spot the well-known signs of fear in their dogs, such as pacing or tucking the tail between the legs.  There are more subtle behaviors, however, that dogs display long before the obvious signs.  To help keep your dog happy and comfortable, here are some early signs of anxiety for you to get familiar with.

  • Panting: A common misconception is that dogs only pant because they are hot.  Actually, many dogs will pant when they’re stressed or anxious.  This happens because your dog’s adrenaline is released in response to a scary situation, and his pulse quickens and his breathing speeds up.
  • Yawning: Dogs may yawn as a sign that they are conflicted or uncertain about the situation that they’re in.  For example, your dog may want to jump off the groomer’s table because he’s anxious or afraid, but he’s been trained not to do that.  Yawning signifies the conflict of continuing in the uncomfortable situation.
  • Lip tension: Dogs often pull their lips back slightyly when they’re anxious.  It can appear as if he’s smiling or just some creases at the corners of his mouth.
  • Displacement behaviors: Your dog may display inappropriate behavior because he is anxious or excited about something else.  Such behaviors include your dog humping your leg when a visitor comes to the house — he is displacing his feelings about the guest arriving.

Can you sense when your dog is anxious?  How do you know?  Share with everyone in the comments.

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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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2 Responses to Early Signs of Anxiety

  1. Thundershirt says:

    We would like to invite you to take a look at our Facebook page and join in the conversation! We have had a lot of great discussions about dog anxieties and many pet owners have offered great tips and advice to each other. Please feel free to ask you own question too! Happy reading:) http://www.facebook.com/thundershirt

  2. Lynn Messer says:

    I wonder if any one has some ideas in how to deal with anxiety with a Doberman dam and her pups. She has had several litters with no signs of stress, then she had to have an emergency C-section and went into shock after surgery. I always sleep in the room for the first two weeks with the new born pups, to make sure momma can find a place the lay down and pups can find their way to momma. Unfortunately, my father was on his death bed a few days after the litter arrived. I was gone all day and early is the morning my husband returned home to find the dam panic stricken and carrying puppies outside trying to bury them. I rushed her in the the vet who thought she was having a panic attack since I was not home with her. She snapped at her pups and the medication the vet gave seemed to make matters worse. She was very anxious any time we had visitors and normally my grandchildren crawl on her and play with the pups with no signs of stress or anxiety. Now she has had another litter, and seems to be getting very anxious when strangers are leaving, she is ok while they are petting her and playing with her pups but when the people went to leave she lunged and barked violently at them. I am not sure how to handle this stress, she is fine with our family, grandchildren and nieces and nephews but was anxious with any stranger. Any ideas on how to deal with this situation, I don’t want to pamper her too much and encourage the behavior, yet I don’t want her to bite someone. After her pups went home before she was fine. I have considered just spaying her because of this problem. I am open to suggestions……

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