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Most pet owners can tell when their dog is anxious. They know how to read the big clues – the whining, the cowering and the tucked tail, just to name a few. In this piece, we discuss some of the more subtle signs. Although they are not signs of a full-blown nervous state, they are indicators that something is not right.If you can pay attention to the body language of your dog, you can bail them out before they get completely overwhelmed. Even if your dog is happy-go-lucky and boneheaded, there are situations that signal that they are going through a situation that is more than what they can take. As a matter of fact, if you watch them closely, you will come to realize that they are not so boneheaded after all.Why is it important for you to tell when your dog is stressed?
If you can tell when your dog is stressed and do something to offset it, you are taking care of the mental health of both you and your dog. It will save you a lot of grief in the future. That does not mean that you have to be there every time your dog gets stressed
. For instance, he might get stressed when he hears the sound of a car backfiring and then go back home and sniff a hydrant to cool off. On the other hand, if your dog pounces on people out of the blue, the onus is on you for not having noticed it beforehand.What are the signs that you need to look out for?
- If your dog is worried about another person or animal, you might see him turn his head away. You will be able to see the whites of his eyes as he looks sidelong at the problem. Do not approach or touch your dog if he is still and shows the whites of his eyes as there is a good chance that he is on the verge of exploding with a snap, lunge or a bite.
- Keep a lookout for displacement behavior. They are often seen when an animal experiences a conflict between two motivations. If you notice your dog sniffing at something or the other to avoid contact with another dog, that is a clear cut sign of displacement behavior.
- You can get a lot of clues that your dog is stressed from the visible signs that his body shows. Drooling could be a sign of dental problems or nausea. Excessive pawing or shedding is also a sign that your dog is nervous.
- Dogs that are reactive often reach to the nearest surface to urinate. It is not much use since the other dog is probably gone by then. It is probably your dog’s way of saying “Phew! Thank god that is over!”