Understanding Your Dog's Anxiety: Signs, Causes, and Solutions

Understanding Your Dog's Anxiety: Signs, Causes, and Solutions

Key Points

  • A change in a dog's routine may cause behavioral issues, such as excessive barking, pacing, and shaking.

  • Nearly 40 percent of dogs suffer from noise-related fears.

  • A calming dog bed provides your pup with better sleep -- and offers you peace of mind.

There are several dog anxiety signs to look for, but there are also many anxiety solutions. These solutions work for countless dogs and owners if you use them consistently. Use them together, and they become more effective.


You must know what to look for before fixing anything. UK researchers Nina R. Cracknell and Daniel S. Mills from the Animal Behaviour, Cognition, and Welfare Group at the University of Lincoln looked at homeopathic remedies to address dogs' fear of firework noises. According to their research, close to 40 percent of dogs suffer from some form of noise aversion, and the chief causes include fireworks, gunshots, and thunderstorms.

Their 2007 study published in The Veterinary Journal stated, "A fear of noises can be demonstrated by behaviours such as hiding, destructiveness (in an attempt to escape from the noise), and excessive panting, drooling and trembling."

As a pup parent, you need to know the most common signs of anxiety in dogs so that you can offer much-needed comfort and support.

Excessive Barking or Whining

Yes, every dog barks. They also whine at times when they want something. The worrisome behavior to look for is excessive dog barking or whining. They vocalize to express themselves. In the case of a dog with anxiety, they express their stress or discomfort.

Dog raising paw

Take note of when this happens too. Is it ongoing throughout the day? Does it happen when you're about to leave? During thunderstorms? It helps to know the cause so you may better treat this excessive dog barking.

Destructive Behavior

Chewing, digging, and scratching are normal behaviors in dogs. So, when are these destructive behaviors considered signs of anxiety?

Puppies chew on pretty much anything they get their mouths around. It's part of the growing process and good for their teeth and gums. As they get older, most dogs outgrow this behavior. Another issue may exist if your adult dog is chewing and destroying objects and furniture.

Look for other symptoms besides their destructive behavior. Do they pace and whine when you're about to leave? When you come home, do you find your furniture destroyed? These may be signs of separation anxiety.

If no other signs of anxiety exist, their chewing or scratching may indicate they're bored. If your dog is alone with nothing to do, they find something independently -- which may include your shoes, couch, and other valuables.

Pacing or Restlessness

When you're about to leave for work, do you find your dog pacing? Is your dog pacing and restless at night? These may be signs of separation anxiety. If you leave for work at the same time every morning, your dog figures out that schedule.

Some signs tell your dog that you're about to go. Think of the routine you have when you get ready to leave. Do you make coffee, put your briefcase by the door, grab your keys, set the alarm, or say goodbye to your dog? These are all "tells" that give away the fact that you're going somewhere, and your dog picks up on them.

French Bulldog sleeping with stuffed toy

Trembling or Shaking

You may see your dog stand frozen in one spot as their body shakes or trembles. They may also run and hide or tremble while cowering in their bed.

If their shaking is excessive or occurs as more than a response to a particular trigger, seek the advice of a vet. Trembling may also be a sign of a medical condition.


You may not know why a dog's behavior exists, but it helps to know why they do something to better deal with it. Remember that they don't know the cause, so try to empathize.

Separation Anxiety

This occurs when your dog is away from their owner or favorite human or left alone. It often happens with loyal dog breeds, like Labs, German shepherds, poodles, and poodle mixes.

When dogs feel protective of their owners, they feel they have a job to do. When their owner is gone, they temporarily lose their identity.

It may also happen when your dog is often around you and suddenly separated. Perhaps you worked from home, changed jobs, and now go to an office. This sudden change in routine is often distressing for a dog.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel resting on chair

Fear or Phobias

Many dog fears come from loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks. Dogs have sensitive hearing, and when there's a sudden loud pop, it's frightening. They don't know the source, and this fear of the unknown adds to their distress.

A dog may also develop a phobia of particular objects like umbrellas. Others respond fearfully to unfamiliar environments, people, or animals. Knowing how the anxiety begins is difficult, but focus on relieving it.

Past Trauma or Abuse

Adopting a dog is fantastic. Often, you provide a life that improves upon their past. If you get them from a shelter, some work may be involved. Many shelter dogs come from bad situations.

Past dog trauma sticks with them for a long time. These past negative experiences may lead to the development of anxiety-related behaviors.

Knowing the cause helps you not expose your dog to something that worsens the problem. In reality, you may never know what caused their trauma or what their triggers are until they reveal themselves.


Now that you know the signs and possible causes, it's time to deal with the problem. These are effective ways to calm your anxious dog.

Dog resting on dog bed

Calming Dog Beds

Calming dog beds work by surrounding and supporting their body. Your dog sinks into the bed, making them feel safe. Use the bed as your dog's retreat whenever they feel nervous.

The faux fur lining and soft filling provide a comfortable night's sleep. Keep the calming dog beds in consistent locations so your dog always knows where to go when they feel anxiety coming on or when they're alone.

Training and Socialization

When your dog is afraid of unfamiliar people, animals, or situations, they likely haven't been properly socialized. It helps to socialize your dog, but do so gradually. Too much may be overwhelming. You don't want to further traumatize them.

Take them to a dog park or other area with a lot of room to separate yourselves from other park-goers. They get used to public places without engaging in close contact. Gradually bring your dog closer to other dogs or owners while always keeping them on a leash so they don't run off.

Training them to obey basic commands helps them become more focused and confident. Some professional trainers offer group training classes. These help with both teaching new skills and dog socialization.

Consistent Routine

Dogs do best when they have a consistent routine. Predictability combats anxiety because a dog fears the unknown.

Big dog sleeping in bed

Researchers Emila-Grace Sherwell et al. published an article in Veterinary Sciences in 2023. The researchers studied changes in the behaviors of dogs in relation to the COVID-19 lockdowns and found: "The need for social contact seemed to be increased when there were changes in the dog’s routines, such as its exercise schedule or time spent alone."

They also said that changes to the dog's safe space led to behavioral changes, indicating a need to control their environment. Throwing off a dog's routine puts them at risk for behavioral issues.

Regular exercise routines help them know what to expect and work off some nervous energy. Take your dog for a walk before you leave for work if they have separation anxiety. Take them for a walk in the evening if they have trouble sleeping.

Of course, you must choose a routine that aligns with your schedule. Whatever you do, do it consistently.

Calming Aids

You should always try behavioral training, but it helps when you have other calming aids working together with training. There are several must-have calming products for anxiety solutions.

If a calming bed isn't enough during a thunderstorm, try a calming wrap or play some white noise to drown out the sounds.

Calming Dog's beds also have pockets for their calming inserts. These contain natural ingredients that emit soothing scents to relax your dog. Diffusers use the same concept. Some of them use pheromones that mimic a mother dog nursing her puppies.

If scents don't work for your dog, try something ingestible. Calming treats have natural ingredients to relax your dog. These work best if you give them about 15 minutes before a stressful event.

Senior dog resting outside

Understanding Your Dog Is the Key

You may not think like a dog, but at least empathize with them. Understand that your dog experiences fear in certain situations without knowing why. Whether from a phobia or past dog trauma, help them overcome these fears.

Identify dog anxiety signs, try to understand the causes, and use the anxiety solutions offered. If one doesn't work, try another. Not every solution is perfect for all dogs. Be persistent and patient, and with time, your dog becomes a calm and confident canine.

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