Expressions of Discomfort in Dogs
Dogs, like humans, show their emotions and cope in stressful situations in various ways depending on what feels good to them or what has worked in the past. Here are some of the ways dogs can behave when they are uncomfortable:
Over-arousal- These are the dogs that can’t sit still, are moving constantly and can not settle. They will often be mouthy, darting, and jumping around. They may be panting more than is normal.
Shut down- These dogs are so uncomfortable that it may appear that they are well behaved but they are really suffering on the inside and are so afraid they don't even want to move very much. These dogs often get overlooked as being comfortable but they most certainly aren't.
Scared- Most of us can immediately see that these dogs are uncomfortable because they are shaking, hiding, or perhaps their tail is tucked under their body. They may be overlooked as behaving well but are truly uncomfortable.
Reactive- These are the dogs that bark and lunge to get the scary thing to leave. These are the dogs that get noticed and are often the ones that we get called about to help as they can appear aggressive. Most of the time it is a dog that is fearful or anxious in the situation and has learned that barking and lunging works.
Dogs learn to cope in uncomfortable and stressful situations in whatever way they know how. We can teach them to cope in a more positive and productive way. If you think your dog is uncomfortable in a certain circumstance, then it is best to get your dog to a comfortable environment quickly and come up with a plan to make the future circumstances stress free. The good news is that each of these scenarios is treatable with the help of an experienced canine behavior consultant.