How to Know if my Dog Has Stress or Anxiety? + 7 Tips to Reduce it


Translated by Nick R

Are you seeing that your dog is more nervous or aggressive than usual?

Just like us, it is normal for dogs to suffer from stress, especially after recent changes in their lives. Stress is not necessarily a problem until it becomes chronic stress and therefore can also turn into anxiety.

I’ll explain how to identify it and 7 tips to prevent or treat it.

Why does my dog have stress or anxiety? 

There are several causes for your dog to suffer from stress or anxiety. Knowing your dog and knowing when they are overreacting to a situation is crucial.

For example, acting overly nervous or aggressive.

It can be related to situations such as:

  • Traumatic experiences: some bad experiences they’ve suffered, such as fear of noise, socializing, or fear of some object.

For example, my dog, Amber, was quite hyperactive and playful as a puppy, in general, we taught her basic command training and from the beginning, she learned to stay alone without showing signs of anxiety.

However, as I said before, at that age they can also suffer bad experiences that later cause them stress or fear. For example, my sister played a lot with a hula hoop, on one occasion she unintentionally hit Amber with it, and from then on she gets stressed and hides if a hula hoop is near her.

To try to get rid of her fear I have tried to teach her to go through it and although she gets close to it, it is not something she likes very much anymore.

  • Moving: This can confuse your dog and stress it out while it is adapting to the environment, it can also affect it a lot if maybe they were living in a house with more space and now they have a reduced space.
  • The arrival of a baby or another pet: A baby needs a lot of attention from the parents, so the dog could feel rejected or separated, which could generate jealousy and stress. Also, with the arrival of another pet, they may feel jealous of not having the same attention as before.
  • A change in routine: If your dog is used to going out, eating, and playing at certain times you should try to keep its schedule as intact as possible. If there are abrupt changes you’ll get your dog confused and this will take away the security he had since now it won’t be clear when to eat, do its needs, or when to go out.


It is completely normal for puppies to be hyperactive and chew on things. They are discovering the world and are curious about everything around them. Besides their milk teeth are falling out and the new ones get their gums itchy and they want to relieve themselves by biting different objects.

Of course, this stage is also very important since it is when they can experience good or bad events that will define whether they are afraid, stressed, or anxious in certain situations.

For this reason, if you have had your dog since puppyhood, you should start training it, teach it to stay alone without anxiety, teach it to socialize with other dogs and people, and also get used to different noises.

Adult dogs

If your dog is already an adult and didn’t have good training since puppyhood, it’ll probably have anxiety or stress problems.

But don’t worry, although it can take a long time, there are several things you can do to stop this.

If, on the other hand, it is an adult that was trained and is starting to show signs of stress or anxiety, you must identify in what situations and what could have caused it. For example, if you’re leaving it alone a lot more than before, if you recently moved house or if an additional member of your household has moved in, whether it’s a person or another animal.

Old dogs 

It’s normal for a dog to become more dependent on its owner as it reaches its senior years. With advanced age comes not only physical but also behavioral diseases, some dogs at this stage may begin to lose their sight or hearing, so they’ll become more anxious, especially if the owner is not there at some point because they are more vulnerable.

On the other hand, they may also present cognitive dysfunction, in which the brain undergoes degenerative changes that cause the dog to become disoriented, not recognize its family and not remember its name or the training you had taught it.

If this is your case, it is necessary to go to the vet to have the best treatment, since this disease could be compared to Alzheimer’s disease, but in dogs. You can also read this article about cognitive dysfunction in geriatric dogs.

Is my dog suffering from any behavioral problems due to stress or anxiety? 

Stress or anxiety in your pet can generate different behavioral problems that maybe it didn’t have before.

Aggressiveness, biting and damaging household items, or even incontinence.

Some signs that your furry one is suffering from stress or anxiety are:

  • Panting and drooling.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Destructive behavior, such as destroying furniture and breaking everything.
  • Continuous barking.
  • Trying to get your attention all the time.
  • Vomiting.
  • Incontinence.

Separation anxiety in dogs 

Separation anxiety is when your dog starts to show unwanted behaviors when left alone at home or separated from a person important to it. This means that your dog is so attached to you that the moment you move away it starts to feel anxious and looks for ways to deal with it through destructive behaviors.


In order for you to identify if your dog has separation anxiety, here are some symptoms:

  • Destructive behavior: your dog tends to bite and tear apart whatever it finds, especially when you leave it alone. If this is your case, you can read our 13 Tips to stop your dog from biting and damaging everything at home.
  • Barking, whining, and crying: this is abnormal behavior if your dog does this excessively.
  • Peeing or pooping inside: If your dog is used to relieving itself outside and now starts to have this behavior, it may be a sign of separation anxiety. Also, if your dog has been taught to do it in one place and now does it in inappropriate places.
  • Drooling: If your dog drools excessively and you have already ruled out any physical problem.
  • Excessive licking: If your dog licks or nibbles too much, this can even cause injuries.

7 Tips to calm your dog in stressful or anxious situations. 

Now, there are several ways to treat and prevent stress and anxiety in your pet, but keep in mind that you must have time to meet your dog’s needs.

1. Create a routine 

Having a schedule for eating, walking, toileting, and playing will give your dog stability and confidence.

It’ll know when something is going to be done, so it won’t have anxious behaviors, which will mean a calm and balanced dog.

If it is a puppy with all its vaccinations up to date, you can take it out about 4 or 5 times a day; for adults, 3 outings a day of half an hour to an hour will be enough. It would be good that you do the first outing before leaving home since your dog will arrive tired and will be calmer when you leave.

On each outing, you can walk it for a while so it can relieve itself, and then you can play with it in a park to also stimulate its mind. Remember also to have a feeding schedule. You can take into account these first habits that you should teach your dog.

2. Physical activity and games 

As I said before, it’s essential for your dog to be physically active and have fun. Depending on its amount of energy, you should take more time to go out and play with your dog.

For example, small breeds may need a half-hour of physical activity, medium breeds a half hour to an hour, and large breeds more than an hour. Although this is a general statement, there will be dogs that do not comply with this, and even though they are small, they have a lot of energy.

My dog is a Cocker Spaniel, which is a medium breed and she usually needs a little more than an hour, since she is quite active.

Another thing you must do, apart from tiring them physically to discharge energy, is to stimulate them mentally. To do this, not only throw a ball and wait for it to come back but also create challenges for your furry friend.

I like to play hide and seek with my dog. I usually throw a toy far away and hide so she starts looking for me using her sense of smell. I also sometimes hide her favorite toy around the house and get her to look for it.

You can even do this with some snacks, hide several around the house (in places that are not high or where she can cause harm), and have her find them.  

You can also use the famous Kong toy for dogs, in which you introduce food through a hole and your dog will entertain trying to get it out.

3. Dog training 

Teaching your dog at least the basic commands will improve your bond. In addition, this will also give you and your dog confidence, if it knows how to control itself in the street, for example, it will prevent it from having an accident.

Your dog will also be happier; a well-behaved dog will be more accepted in gatherings since it won’t create problems or jump among the guests or steal their food. So you won’t have to leave it alone at home.

On the other hand, training will improve your canine’s communication and understanding. And it will also stimulate its mind because if you do it with positive reinforcement this will also count as a game.

If you want to start training your furry friend, I recommend these 15 easy tricks to train your dog at home.

4. Socialization 

Dogs are by nature quite sociable, and this is an important aspect to consider in their life.

The good socialization of your puppy will be determined from its birth. It should not be separated at a very early age from its mother and siblings because this is when it learns a lot about socializing with other dogs.

For example, it will learn to play without seriously biting other dogs. When it grows up, you must take your dog to play with other dogs and learn how to act properly in different situations like knowing people and other animals or how to behave in various environments.

If we don’t teach it how to socialize from an early age, it could develop anxiety because it doesn’t know how to relate to the environment, people and animals that surround it.

This is also why walking is so important, as other owners will also be walking their dogs. Sometimes we are afraid that the other dog might do something to it, but this fear will be transmitted to your furry one. Let them sniff each other and play.

5. Control your emotional mood 

Dogs are very sensitive and can understand what is going on around them. Thanks to their sense of smell, they can detect their owner’s emotional state which, due to their empathy, will also affect their mood and, therefore, their behavior.

There are several scientific studies that show that dogs are capable of understanding our easy expressions, and tone of voice and that they are affected by them. This is why it is also important to work on our mental state if we want a balanced canine companion.

A study conducted by the University of Vienna shows that our emotions can be contagious to our dogs.  Animals that live together in groups copy each other’s emotions in order to adapt, as the study explains, this helps them to survive. They find food resources or escape from predators. This is why dogs see humans as part of their pack.

Recommendation: Avoid yelling and fighting in presence of your canine, as this will affect it negatively.

6. Help your dog adapt to the changes at home. 

As I mentioned before, one cause of stress or anxiety in our pet is the changes in its routine.

For example, if a baby or another pet arrives or if there is a move. Your pet will feel confused and probably rejected because it won’t get the same attention as before, or in the case of moving, it is a different space than the one it was used to.

This is why it is important to take the time to prepare your dog for the upcoming changes.

For example, my sister recently had her baby, when she was still pregnant I tried to keep my dog away from her because she could be rough and hit her belly unintentionally. Of course, Amber started to feel rejected and would get stressed and cry because she wasn’t being spoiled like before.

Now, with the arrival of the baby, I have had to start teaching her to greet without jumping up and down, because when she is introduced to the baby she could hurt her. It’s important to create a good coexistence between the baby and the dog from the beginning.

My sister doesn’t live with my dog, but if she did, I would have had to prepare her for the changes that would come with a baby in the house, for example, she might have to change her routine. So a few months earlier I would have started to gradually change Amber’s schedule, depending on how much time she’s going to have when the baby arrives.

And also, she would have to be taught to be more independent since she wouldn’t have the same attention she was given before.

7. Medication

If after doing all the above, your dog is still anxious and its symptoms become extreme, such as loss of fur, wounds, aggression, etc., it’s necessary to consult a veterinarian to get the best treatment.

In some cases it will be necessary to include in the treatment some tranquilizing medication, normally benzodiazepines and phenothiazines are used, but remember that you can only give them if they have been medicated by a professional since this must be done in a controlled way and in conjunction with some canine training therapy.

On the other hand, you can also use pheromones to calm your furry. They are artificial pheromones based on the ones that bitches get during the lactation period that can appease the puppies.