Canine Stress

Can you easily recognize when your dog is experiencing stress? Do you consciously watch for it? There are many signals through which you may spot this condition before it becomes out of hand or critical to performance. Dogs and their body language form of communication have many signals or gestures that tell us how they are doing. As each dog is an individual, it will be your job as handler or observer to look at the big picture and determine what the dog is telling you. Common things that can indicate stress are:

Body posture

Body tense, stiff
Body droopy, tired appearance
Body lowered, not cowering but slinkier than usual
Stretching
Skin twitching
Change in pace
Sit down
Tail wag different from normal

Vocalizing

Whining
Barking

Eyes

Dilated pupils
Glazed look
Squinting
Shifty eyes
Whale eye, white showing
Blinking
Red pigment around eyes (also inner ears)
Avoids eye contact (turns head away)
Looks to handler frequently for directions

Mouth

Panting, too wide or too narrow
Licking lips or nose
Yawning
Jaw clomping
Drooling
Velvet tongue

Face

Furrowed brow
Mouth corners back
Ears back or uneven
Veins prominent under eyes

Other

Stop to chew on self, scratch
Just sits or lays down
Comes to you in an attention getting manner
Paws sweating
Tail held lower than normal
Sniffing
Digging
Circling, returning to you in arc path
Out of context behaviors