How many times have you seen a dog at the dog park or on a video on Facebook or Instagram who was giving off every imaginable signal they did NOT want to be messed with and some well-meaning dog lover wouldn't leave them alone?
Here are a few tips on interpreting the signals a dog is sending. Of course, dogs are as individual as we are, and stress signals vary from dog to dog, but these are good starting points. Not every dog will exhibit all of the signs, but most will exhibit a few.
Dog Breed Specific Stress Signals
Some breeds exhibit stress in different ways. For example, my Frenchies don't have tails and thus lack that tool for showing they are afraid or stressed by tucking their tails. Obviously, having no tail keeps them from wagging their tails and sharing how happy they are. Of course, they wiggle their butts and have various actions like the infamous Frenchie Pounce Pose (that's for another post-back to anxious dogs). But they are missing a few of the communication tools that other dogs have. This applies to any tail-less dog breed, both naturally tail-less or docked; Bulldogs, Boxers, many Spaniels, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, to name a very few.
Some breeds seem to always look nervous, like Italian Greyhounds, Chihuahuas and Chinese Crested dogs.
In general, the tips below will help identify stress in the majority of dogs.
How To Know A Dog Is Stressed
Turning their head and refusing to look at you
Bug-eyed, whites of eyes are showing or rolling eyes
Tail tucked between legs
Lips curled or twitching
Stress yawning - a rapid yawn that is bigger than a sleepy yawn
Hair up on their neck or back (we call this Stegosaurus back)
Tight, defensive posture
In multi-dog households there may be some bullying of other dogs
Hopefully there are tools you were not aware of and can use to keep yourself and your dogs safe and happy!