9 Indoor Activities to Help Your American Hairless Terrier Overcome Stress

american hairless terrier standing in the woods


If you have American hairless terriers, a breed developed from the rat terrier, then you know they are a dog breed that is especially prone to anxiety. Their relatively small frame puts them at just 12-16 pounds in weight and 12-16 inches in height. Their status as small dogs makes them especially vulnerable to feeling anxious and stressed. As dog owners, it troubles us when we can't tell how our canine is feeling, and makes us feel worse when we can't help them. What can we do? No need to fear! We're here to guide you through this. In this article, we will explore four signs that your hairless breed is feeling stressed, and then dive into nine indoor activities to help them overcome that stress. Let's get started.

Anxiety Sign #1: Body Language

We find that the first and most critical sign that your American hairless terriers feel anxious is in essential aspects of their body language. Both in humans and dogs, body language can shed meaningful light on how someone feels. It gives off very distinct signals about their emotion, mood, and current temperament.


Let's explore what parts to pay attention to with your American hairless terrier's body language. First, inspect your dog's ears. According to DogTime, a canine's ears "are great indicators for telling you what your dog is feeling." Are their ears naturally sitting beside their face, or are they pinned back near the side of their head? If it's the former, your dog is likely not feeling anxious. This is the default state of any dog's ears, showing that they feel cheerful or neutral. However, if it's the latter, there might be a problem. Dog's ears go back like that when they are experiencing stress, anxiety, or discomfort. It's best to comfort your dog, get rid of any external stimuli that could be threatening, and give your American hairless terrier some space.

american hairless terrier puppy sitting on a fluffy blanket


Your dog's tail is the following body language hotspot that correlates with anxiety. Dog's tails can express a range of emotions, such as happiness, nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement. So how can you tell what tail behavior means that your American hairless terriers feel anxious? A complete body wag indicates a happy and excited dog. The slow wag can mean that your terrier is unsure, nervous, or hesitant about the current situation. A stiff tail can signify that your furry friend feels tension and is on high alert. Finally, the tail position most relevant to anxiety is the tucked tail. When your canine is exhibiting a tucked tail, down and between their legs, this is a telltale sign that your furry friend is feeling anxious and stressed. They could even be utterly frightened. Pay close attention to your canine's tail, and what ramifications it could mean for their mental health.


Another surefire indicator of stress and anxiety in American hairless terriers is their eyes. There are fundamental characteristics and tendencies that dogs exhibit through their eyes when they feel anxious. First, examine your dog to see if they have a whale eye. This is when the "whites of your dog's eyes are visible (the sclera)." According to Dogster, it's a clear signal your canine is feeling "frightened or threatened." The next thing to look for in your dog's eyes is whether they are avoiding direct eye contact with you. The American Kennel Club states that this could show that your "pup… thinks something must be wrong" as they react to your "voice and body language."

Body Positioning

Finally, pay attention to your American hairless terriers' body positioning. Observe how their body is presenting. Are they closed off and stiff? Are they crouching or trembling? Fear prompts a dog to exhibit this kind of body positioning and behavior, and this is a clear indicator that your American hairless terriers are going through something negative.

two american hairless terriers standing in a grassy field

Anxiety Sign #2: Biting, Growling, Barking

As a pet parent of a hairless breed, you develop a better understanding of your American hairless terriers' temperament over time. Most rat terrier dogs are friendly and affectionate to both kids and other pets. However, any canine is vulnerable to expressing one of the three classic destructive behaviors: growling, biting, and barking. Growling typically indicates that your pup is feeling threatened or vulnerable. While it is usually not a sign of aggression, it is a warning from your dog that he's feeling uncomfortable. If your dog escalates to biting you or others around him, that's a pretty surefire signal that he feels like he's in danger and needs to protect himself actively. On the other hand, barking or whining is signaling that your canine is reacting to some stressor in the environment; try to identify what it is and remove it from your dog's area.

Anxiety Sign #3: Pacing or Shaking

The next sign that should tell every pet parent that their dog is anxious or stressed is when they are pacing around the room, or shaking their whole body. Both behaviors signify a canine that is feeling uncomfortable in the current environment and doesn't know where to go. You'll often see your terrier "shake it off" after something traumatic or disconcerting happens. It's their way of recalibrating their minds to shake off those anxious and stressed feelings. A practical tip to combat this negative experience is to pay close attention to what triggers your American hairless terriers' anxiety symptoms of pacing or shaking their body. It could be when guests come over, or when they hear the doorbell ring. Once you've identified the trigger, see if you can control the environment and eliminate the external stimuli. This will go a long way in helping your hairless variety feel better at home.

Anxiety Sign #4: Destructive Behavior

The final sign that we'll cover that shows stress and anxiety in your American Hairless terriers is a mess when you come back home. We're talking chewed-up couch cushions, socks scattered around the house, the trash raided through, and pee and poop littered everywhere. While it is easy to think you have a poorly trained canine, this might not be the case. Destructive behavior when you're out of the house is significant to separation anxiety. When you leave your dog alone, he doesn't know what to do with himself. This feeling grows into stress and anxiety. The pent-up energy causes your canine to engage in destructive behavior. The absence of your presence causes a build-up of negative emotions in your American hairless terriers, and they end up taking it out on the house. Stick around for some powerful ways to combat this behavior and treat your dog's anxiety indoors.

Now that we've educated ourselves on how to identify a stressed and anxious dog, we need to know what to do about it. It's time to get into nine indoor activities that can help your American hairless terriers overcome their stress and anxiety.

close up image of an american hairless terrier

Make a New Toy For Your Terrier

Studies indicate that 14% of dogs deal with separation anxiety. This anxiety occurs when you leave your American hairless terriers alone at home for hours on end, lacking any physical or mental stimulation. That's what provokes your canine to engage in destructive behavior; they have nowhere they can direct their pent-up energy and attention. So how can you deal with this?

Well, one effective strategy is to leave your American hairless terriers with a toy that they love. Toys offer your dog the perfect outlet of engagement that they're lacking when you're gone. The problem is that dogs get bored with toys pretty quickly, putting you back in the same situation all over again. One study concluded that dogs like new things. When given the choice to pick between two old toys and a new one, 76% of canines chose the new toy. So the solution is to make a new toy for your dog every so often.

A perfect toy that is easy to make is the plastic bottle toy. All you need to make this toy is an old t-shirt and a plastic water bottle. Wrap the bottle inside the old t-shirt, and knot it closed. The reason this is a brilliant choice is that American hairless terriers love crunchy things, and water bottles offer an excellent crunch characteristic.

Give Your Dog a DIY Stuffed Kong

The following indoor activity to help your American hairless terriers overcome stress is an all-time favorite: a stuffed Kong. Guess what? You can make one at home! All you need to make the Kong is an apple corer and an apple. Of course, you'll also need some tasty treats! We recommend our Calming Zen Chews. These are the perfect therapeutic treats for your American hairless terriers to enjoy. The Calming Zen Chews feature natural and pet-safe calming agents, such as Chamomile, L-Theanine, and L-Tryptophan. Together, these compounds lower the stress and anxiety levels in your dog. Throw in some peanut butter to make it even harder for your pup, but even more tasty.

To make the DIY Kong toy, first, remove the sticker and cut off the stem. Then, you'll need to core the apple. Finally, stuff the inside of the apple with treats and peanut butter for your canine to snack on.

The reason this works to combat anxiety in your American hairless terriers is because it stimulates them mentally and physically. When your pup is alone at home, their separation anxiety is likely to kick in. Having a tasty Kong to play with and get treats keeps them occupied and curbs their anxiety.

two american hairless terrier sitting on a table

Pet Your Terrier

Another effective way to battle stress and anxiety in your American hairless terriers is to pet your dog! Give them all your love and affection. The reason this works is that physical touch incites a release of the chemical oxytocin. You commonly see oxytocin as the love hormone for the feelings of warmth and fuzziness that it creates. In mental health, this chemical offers anti-anxiety effects and calms the brain. Ongoing research shows that oxytocin promotes relaxation and trust, which directly helps your pup manage tense situations.

Organize a Treasure Hunt

The next activity you can do indoors with your American hairless terriers is organizing a treasure hunt. We know this activity as scent work, where the pet parent hides several treats or toys around a familiar area. Then you task the dog with trying to find them all using just their nose. The West Suburban Humane Society found that even just a half-hour of scent work helps the dog maintain a "sense of peace" after the session.

Give Your Terrier a Massage

We all know that massages are a fantastic way to relax and lay loose for humans, but did you know they are just as effective for your dog? That's right! Giving your American hairless terriers a massage can be a powerful way to fight their anxiety and bring about mental relaxation. As we mentioned with petting your dog, physical touch causes the chemical oxytocin to be released in your dog's body and brain. It soothes them psychologically, mitigating any feelings of stress and anxiety. Here's how you can massage your dog.

First, have your American hairless terriers lie down in an open, quiet area of the house. To boost the effect of the massage, have them lay on our Calming Cuddle Beds. Optimized for canine comfort, they are made from premium materials with no harmful chemicals.

Next, gently stroke your American hairless terriers, starting with their belly or back. Move your hands in long, sweeping motions while keeping a steady cadence. Be aware of any signs that your dog is feeling uncomfortable or in pain.

To take it up a level, start applying light pressure to the muscular areas of your canine's body. If you see your American hairless terriers are particularly enjoying a specific area, gradually apply more pressure. Avoid any bones or joints.

To finish, move towards the base of your dog's skull and the bottom of their tail. Those two areas offer maximum relaxation for your American hairless terriers.

american hairless terrier laying in the grass

Plan a Play Date

Socialization is a critical component of any dog's development. It serves to shape the canine's personality and define their temperament. A veterinarian from Texas concluded that ongoing socialization helps to "maintain lower stress levels" in dogs. Next time you notice your American hairless terriers experiencing symptoms of stress and anxiety, consider planning a play date for them. Ask one of their favorite canine pals to come over. Make sure you plan a few activities for them to engage in rather than just letting them sit idle.

Leave Your Canine With a Dog Puzzle

The next activity you can do with your stressed-out American hairless terriers indoors is an interactive dog puzzle. These are mechanical toys that comprise a variety of simple mechanisms for which your dog can play. These can be buttons, sliding panels, or other moving parts for your dog to interact with. When your dog moves the right pieces, a treat gets dispensed. Such a toy is a solid way to combat stress and anxiety because it offers your canine mental stimulation in your absence. It replaces the feelings of stress that were there before. By taking advantage of positive reinforcement, our dog's stressed-out mind is engaged in something constructive.

Practice Training a Calm Behavior

Another effective strategy to battle feelings of stress in your American hairless terriers is to train a calm behavior in them. This is possible. Through shaping techniques and association, you can teach your dog to step into a peaceful state quickly.

The easiest way to train this behavior is by catching your dog in the act. When you notice your American hairless terriers exhibiting the calm behavior you like, immediately click your clicker and reward them with treats. This will help your pup realize that a calm demeanor is desirable. Over time, introduce a cue word to help shape the behavior. Be patient with your dog, as this can take some time.

american hairless terrier wearing a red collar while standing in the grass

Play the Which Hand Game

Our last indoor activity that can help your American hairless terriers overcome anxiety and stress is the hand game. This game is simple: you place a treat in one of your hands, show your dog both hands, and let them pick which one holds the charm. As soon as they show interest in either hand, open it up and show them what's inside. If they were right, reward them. Otherwise, try again.

Since the Olfactory bulb makes up 1/8th of your dog's brain, any game that engages their nose offers optimal levels of mental stimulation. When your American hairless terriers are feeling anxious and stressed, you can use this game to divert that energy towards something positive and constructive.


Stress and anxiety are real challenges for dogs, as they are for humans. Effectively combating those negative feelings is a two-step process: identification and treatment. First, we covered four signs to help you identify when your dog is experiencing stress and anxiety. Then, we outlined nine indoor activities that you can do with your American hairless terriers to treat those anxious symptoms. We hope you enjoyed it!

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