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These 8 Signs Might Mean Your Dog Has Anxiety

The Dodo logo The Dodo 7/22/2021 Danielle Esposito

a dog looking at the camera

Have you ever wondered if dogs can get anxiety?

Turns out, dogs totally can. And it’s important that you know what to look out for when trying to figure out if your dog does have anxiety.

According to Dr. Walter Burghardt, Jr., a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, there’s a spectrum of anxiety-related behaviors in dogs, ranging from mild to severe (just like in humans). 

These are some of the most common signs that your dog has anxiety, according to Dr. Burghardt.

Signs your dog is experiencing mild anxiety

She’s lip-licking

A common sign of mild anxiety — or just being plain uncomfortable — lip-licking usually means that your dog feels uncertain about whatever situation she’s in.

She’s yawning more than usual

Dogs don’t only yawn because they’re tired. If you’re noticing your pup is yawning more than usual, or not anywhere close to bedtime, it could be because she’s feeling anxious.

She’s more inactive (or active) than usual

If you notice your dog is keeping to herself more than usual — or, on the other hand, if she’s more hyper than normal — this could be a sign that she’s feeling anxious and unsure of how to deal with those feelings.

Signs your dog is experiencing moderate anxiety

She’s tucking her tail

If you notice your dog’s tail is tucked, that’s a sign that she could be experiencing a more moderate case of anxiety.

Her ears are flattened


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If you see your dog’s ears are pinned back, it could be a sign that she’s experiencing increased anxiety.

Other signs of moderate anxiety include an increased heart rate, respiration and dilated pupils.

Signs your dog is experiencing severe anxiety

She’s trying to escape

If your dog seems to be doing everything she can to escape or get away from a situation, it could mean she’s feeling severely anxious.

She’s hiding

If you’ve noticed your dog is trying to hide from a scary situation, it could be a sign that her anxiety is severe.

She’s being aggressive

If your dog is showing signs of aggressive behavior, it could mean that she’s feeling very fearful or stressed.

Other signs of very severe anxiety could be that your dog freezes, or just doesn’t move at all.

How to help an anxious dog

If your dog is diagnosed with anxiety, her treatment could depend on a few things:

  • The source of the anxiety
  • The intensity and duration of the anxiety
  • How often your dog’s behavior is affected by anxiety

“For more severe and more frequent cases, anxiety is usually treated with one or more medications to help reduce distress and physiological arousal, environmental changes to reduce the distressing characteristics of a scary event, and behavior modification aimed at improving the patient's confidence in the scary situation,” Dr. Burghardt said.

If your dog is experiencing more mild anxiety, this can usually be treated by desensitizing your dog to the scary situation and working on building your pup’s confidence — all with the help and advice of your vet or dog behaviorist.

You can also try some tried-and-true tricks to help calm down an anxious dog, like:

This Adaptil Calming Spray from Amazon for $24.99

This ThunderShirt from Amazon for $33.87

These calming supplements from Amazon for $16.50

If you suspect your dog is suffering from anxiety, contact your vet to see what you can do to help her feel better.

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