What Are the Signs of an Agitated Dog?

Be in tune with your canine's emotions.
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Dogs are often viewed as happy-go-lucky and laid-back animals, and while that is often true, it doesn't mean that the furry creatures aren't occasionally susceptible to feelings of anxiety and annoyance. Decoding a canine's agitation signals can sometimes be as easy as observing his posture or taking notice of his ears.

Beady Eyes

If your dog is frustrated or scared by something, his usually wide eyes may take on a much beadier and tinier look. If your pet's eyes seem strangely squinty, something may just be eating at the poor thing.


An overwhelmed or otherwise troubled dog may bark excessively as a reaction to his unpleasant circumstances. If a dog wants access to his favorite room of the house, for example, and can't get inside of it because the door is shut, he may just start barking as a way of releasing his agitated feelings -- and perhaps of getting someone to open it up for him.

Hunched Posture

Slightly hunched over posture sometimes can point to agitation in dogs. If a pooch is hunched over with his hind legs carrying most of his body mass, he may be on edge and just a little bit -- or a lot -- apprehensive. He may even be in protective mode against whatever or whomever is bothering him at the moment.

Abstaining From Eye Contact

If a canine shifts his gaze in attempts to abstain from engaging in eye contact, then there's a good chance that he's feeling pretty anxious and agitated. This is not a dog who is in the mood for any type of confrontation. He's probably scared and just wants to keep the serenity.

Baring Teeth

If your dog pushes his lips up to display his teeth, then it may be his way of not only expressing his agitation, but also of warning any other parties to back down and go away immediately -- yikes.

Prickly Fur

If a dog's fur appears to be upright and "prickly" over parts of his body, such as his tail, back and neck, then he may be feeling annoyed. This dog is probably getting more defensive with every passing second, so be cautious and leave him alone.

Eye Whites

Prominently visible eye whites also can signify a seriously agitated dog. If a dog suspects that another dog is about to steal his dinner away, for example, you may notice a lot more white in his eyes than usual.

Tense Tail Wagging

Tail wagging isn't exclusively a sign of joy in doggies -- far from it, in some cases. If a dog is swinging his tail around in a tense and tight manner, then it may be a clue of serious agitation, especially if the tail's positioning is particularly elevated.

Pushed Back Ears

When a dog's ears are pushed to the back, it often denotes anxiety. This dog is not in a relaxed mode. He may be feeling defensive and pondering his next move.


Barking isn't the only vocal signal of an agitated pooch. Growling also is a common sign of a not-so-happy canine camper. If a dog is growling at you, then there's a good chance that he's vexed with you, so leave him alone, play it cool and allow him time to calm down. Never provoke an animal who displays any signs of agitation, and never allow children near pets in this mode. If physical attacks are a concern, do not try to solve the situation yourself. Be cautious and ask your veterinarian for recommendations of any nearby pet behavior experts -- these professionals are equipped to safely deal with troubling canine actions, after all.

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