Stress in Dogs

There can be many reasons for stress in dogs these days which can then create dog behavior problems you never would have expected.

Stress in Dogs

Dogs are simple animals but, simple things you might not think about, can create stress in your dog.  Stress can be physical or emotional in character or it can be related to the environment.

Pent up anxiety and tension from being stressed always surfaces as a dog behavior problem such as peeing/pooping in the house, barking, destructive chewing, biting etc.

I guess in a sense, a stressed dog is very much like a child who becomes stressed and acts out in some way creating a behavior problem. Neither the dog nor the child can tell you why, so you’re left to figure it out on your own.

I know if I were your dog, I’d want you to figure it out sooner than later.

So let’s look at this together. Understanding the root cause of the stress in your dog can, at the very least, help you minimize it for your dog or maybe eliminate it altogether.

To give you a better idea of what to look for lets break it down.


Physical related stress can be created from a number of causes:

Medical issues like a urinary tract infection, back and joint issues including hip dysplasia, recovering from surgery or any other undiagnosed medical issues.

Physical restraint or being mishandled could put a dog into defense drive (flight or fight) and on edge – especially around kids. This would include constantly being picked up or hugged too much and humans getting into a dog’s personal space all the time.

Lack of exercise; i.e. no walks or not walking long enough prevents you from constructively managing your dog’s energy.   He may then begin to manage it in a destructive way. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.


Too much unearned love and affection when you are home can really cause your dog to miss all that attention when you are gone. Now this lack of constant social contact with you can create a lot of anxiety for your dog.

When your dog becomes emotionally insecure in his relationship with you, he becomes frustrated.

Your dog may become afraid when he senses anger or hears yelling and screaming. This kind of emotional energy creates an unstable environment for your dog – creating anxiety and tension.

Another area of concern is boredom or a lack of mental stimulation. If your dog doesn’t get enough stimulation, it can cause or make worse a number of behavior problems such as hyperactivity, destructive chewing, licking, attention-seeking behavior, compulsive disorders and some forms of aggression.


There may be things you do subconsciously every day or things that happen in your life that creates stress in your dog. Let’s take a look.

A simple break in your routine can cause stress in your dog. Let’s face it; dogs like structure and routine. Breaks in predictable activities like arrival times, walking time, feeding times and just hanging with your dog time can cause stress.

Working overtime at the office takes your time away from your dog. Working late means you get home late and it also means your dog’s eating and walking schedules are delayed.   

Dating someone new also means taking time away from your dog. Your dog may become concerned about having to compete for your attention with the new person in your life.

Short-cutting or skipping your dog’s routine walk altogether because you are in a hurry to go out can create anxiety. Remember, your dog has been waiting alone all day to do fun things with you.

A change in pack dynamics can have a drastic affect on some dogs as well if you haven’t already built in structure in his life.

Here are just some of the pack dynamic changes that can create stress in your dog: New baby arrival, weekend visitors, divorce or loosing a spouse, kids off to college (gone for semesters at a time) extensive home renovation for months, moving and even being crated too long.

In summary

I think occasional stress is normal for dogs as it is for us. When it is prolonged it can become chronic, taking an emotional and physical toll on your dog. Once you determine the root cause of your dog’s stress, you can take steps to minimize it or eliminate it altogether.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.   

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim’s Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to going from having a bratty dog to having a behaved dog.  Grab them now.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.