Pawty Survival Guide: Nervous Body Language

An adult Italian greyhound looking on while sitting at a table in a cafe or restaurant patio.

Having you ever been invited to go somewhere, but you rather stay in your sweats with Netflix?

Despite humans being social creatures, we are also excited for a night out. Dogs are like humans in that way. Wanting to go out to events depends on the day and the mood.

You might say, “But our pups don’t speak our language!”

Body language is another similarity between humans and our dogs. It is a huge communicator when it comes to socializing, and it’s easy to pick up cues when you know what to look for.

So, at the BYOD Houston Educational Pawty, Laura Koch, executive manager of Meadowlake, went over what signs to watch for in a stressed pup.

    • Excessive panting. This takes a little judgement of the situation, because your dog could be panting due to hot weather or exercise.
    • Tail between the legs. This sign is fairly common to see and it indicates fear, nerves or intimidation.
    • Stiff tail. The tail is a big communication tool for your dog, and if your dog tail is moving stiff, he/she is not relaxed.
    • Shaking. Once again, this could be due to weather or even breed, but general shaking means your dog is scared.
    • Excessive or sudden licking. If your dog starts licking the air or their body out of nowhere or excessively, your dog is coping with being stressed, and you should consider removing them from the situation.
    • Ears pulled back or not in their natural position. Dogs have different ear shapes, but you’ve seen your dog’s natural ears. If they’re tense, your pup is stressed, scared or intimidated.
    • Tense body. Tension is not a good sign for dogs or humans. If you notice your dog’s shoulders, legs, tail, etc., he/she does not want to be there.
    • Whale eye. Whale eye is when you see a lot of the white of the dog’s eye.
    • Excessive yawning. Yawning can be a calming mechanism for some dogs, so be sure to assess the situation.

    Don’t be afraid to leave an event if your dog shows any of the stressed cues. It may be disappointing for you, but your dogs will be happier when you look out for them. By checking in with your dog throughout the event, you can be your dog’s best advocate.

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