Animal behaviourist Zita Polgar, at Bristol Animal Rescue Centre, spoke to Mirror and talked about eight signs that signal a dog feeling stressed or uncomfortable. She believes:
If these subtle signs are not noticed and the perceived threat remains, the dog may progress to growling, snapping or even biting - but most dogs will react in at least one of the above ways first.
Yawns, blinks, nose licks
Yawning for dogs doesn’t only come when they are tired but also when they are under stress. A stressed or fearful dog will repeatedly lick their nose or lips. They may even have their tongue out and lick the animal or the person around them who makes them anxious. If your dog displays these symptoms when they are petted by a new person, ask them to step back.
No eye contact
If your dog turns its eye away from you, it is because they are uncomfortable. They may not turn their whole head but just the eyes, so you may still be able to see the whites of their eye. Regardless, turning away its eyes is a sign that they want to escape.
This is as simple as it gets. If a dog turns away, they are signalling that they need space. Back off before they become aggressive.
If they walk away from you, let them go. Clearly, they are upset about something and you blocking their way to pet them will only trigger them more.
Creeping with ears back
A dog that slinks away with its ears pinned back and its body close to the ground is not a happy dog. Give it some space to be okay.
Crouching with a tucked tail
When dogs feel nervous, they try to become unimposing physically. So, it might crouch down and tuck its tail to show they are anxious.
Unresponsive and frozen
If you see that your dog has become stiff, it may be because something is threatening them. They may stay like that until the threat is removed and if it’s not, a dog can very well become aggressive to get comfortable again.
Overwhelmed and laying down
There’s a difference between a resting dog and a dog in fear. A dog in fear will lie down on its back, with eyes partly closed, head turned, ears flat back and tail tucked. This is its way to avoid physical confrontation. Don’t try to pet the dog or touch him unless you want it to react aggressively.