Dog Whale Eye And Signs My Dog Is Stressed

Dog Whale Eye? Signs A Dog Is Stressed And Tips To Help

Jul 11, 2015

How do you tell if your dog is stressed? Is he or she giving you whale eye? The following provides the tale tell signs your dog is stressed as well as tips to help them cope while also protecting your home from anxious clawing, chewing and scratching.

Separation anxiety occurs when your dog has an exaggerated fear response to being left alone. But even when you're around, your dog may still have situations that cause them stress and fear.

If your dog is stressed, they may react outwardly by lunging, biting or destroying items in your home, or inwardly, vomiting, excessively licking and refusing to eat.

Before things get to that point, learning to identify the subtle signs of stress that your dog exhibits allows you to nip their anxiety in the bud before behavior patterns get out of hand and potentially harmful.

Calming signals are small changes in your dog's behavior. They are the dog's way of saying "Hey, cut that out"

Stop My Dog From Scratching The Door

When Your Dog is Stressed: Common Calming Signals

If your dog displays a calming signal, it's important to determine what's causing them to be uncomfortable. Is a child climbing on them or another dog getting too close to their food bowl? Whatever it is, take the calming signal as a warning to deescalate the situation.

Common calming signals include: 

  • nose-licking
  • averting their eyes
  • yawning
  • turning away
  • squinting
  • freezing 


In addition to calming signals, there are other hints that may show when your dog is stressed, whether in a particular situation, or suffering from an overall state of stress.

Do They Give You Dog Whale Eye?

Are your dog's eyes dilated? Tight? Look at their eyes. Dogs often show a "whale" or "half-moon" eye when they are stressed, often referred to as dog whale eye.

What's Her Mouth Look Like?

Is your dog panting and excessively drooling on a day that isn't that hot? This is a sign of stress. Teeth chattering, repetitive licking of their lips or nose, cheek puffing, showing their teeth or wrinkling their muzzle are further signs of stress.

Checking Out Her Ears

Dogs that are stressed with often have their ears pinned back, or always upright and alert. In either case, the ears are not in a normal, relaxed position.

Overall Body Language

Watch your dog's body for signs of stress. When you see the body tense or the dog freezing in position, these are classic cues that they are in distress. Low body posture, trembling, shaking, or shedding excessively are also clues to your dog's emotional state.

Behavior When Your Dog is Stressed

Dogs who are stressed will indicate it in their behavior. Watch for restlessness and the inability to relax.

Is your dog pacing, can't seem to get comfortable, laying down and getting right back up again? Hyper vigilant or jumpy?

A normal dog will sleep about 17 hours a day. If your dog is sleeping less than that, she may be too stressed to fall asleep.

On the other hand, a dog who sleeps too much may also be reacting to stressors. Dogs who seem irritable or are destructive are often displaying signs of stress.

Dog sleeping excessively from anxiety or stress

Excessive self-grooming, which can lead to skin problems, can also be an indicator of your dog's stress, as is loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.

Knowing the signs to look out for is an important component of addressing your dog's stress.

When you know the symptoms, you can begin to identify situations, environments and triggers that make your dog uncomfortable, and work on creating healthier behavior patterns.

You and your pet should be able to live happy, healthy lives together. Pay attention to these stress signals and respond to help your dog cope with these stressful situations.  

Green Acres Kennel published a phenomenal in-depth piece on Canine Stress.

Tools & Tips to Help When Your Dog is Stressed

  • Play with your dog! Physical activity will help to calm your dog tremendously. Play long enough for your dog to truly get that energy out.
  • Create a safe zone and spend time with your dog in this zone. You can help your dog to calm down by being calm yourself.
  • A Thundershirt is comforting for dogs, particularly during bad weather or fireworks.
  • Clawguard door shield can help you train your dog to stop scratching the door while also protecting doors and door jams from nervous scratching, chewing and clawing.

In conclusion

If your dog is giving you whale eye or exhibiting any of the other signs of stress outlined above, follow these tips to help ease whatever it is that's concerning them. Even more, to help protect your home and their claws and teeth from anxiety-driven damage, be sure to give some of our home scratch protection products a try!

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