Dogs get mad just like people, but they’re a lot less likely to send passive-aggressive text messages to express their anger.
Most of the time your dog defaults to unbridled enthusiasm. Walks? Food? Time to go outside? It’s all over-the-top exciting to a dog and his wagging tail should tell you that. Life is not always rainbows and sunshine, though. When he’s feeling bad, he can’t talk to you using his voice, so he resorts to other methods to indicate discomfort.
Let’s take a quick look at a few telltale signs that show your dog isn’t happy with you, including an obvious sign you should never ignore (No. 11) and a sign many people get wrong (No. 14).
1. His ears are flattened
One of the easiest ways your dog expresses his emotions is through body language. If you notice his ears are flattened, his head is lowered, or he has a closed mouth and tight lips, he could be expressing anger.
But don’t worry about it too much — chances are, your dog isn’t likely to hold a grudge. A scratch behind the ears could be all it takes for quick and total forgiveness.
Next: This gross behavior could mean your dog is mad.
2. She pees on your stuff
Ever crawl into bed only to discover your dog peed on your pillow? It’s gross, and it’s also your dog’s way of telling you that she’s mad about something. Same goes for chewed up shoes or other items when your dog is well past the puppy stage.
It’s important not to react in anger. Instead, try to figure out the root of the problem and be sure your dog has enough of her own toys to keep her occupied all day.
Next: You may think she’s sleepy — but that’s not the case.
3. She’s constantly yawning
Yawning doesn’t mean your dog is ready for her afternoon nap — this behavior is really a sign of stress or agitation. If you notice your dog yawning a lot, stop doing what you’re doing and remove her from the situation that’s irritating her.
Next: Hugs could spur this behavior.
4. He’s licking his lips with no food in sight
A dog will salivate at the prospect of a tasty meal just like a person. However, if there’s no food around and he starts licking his lips and nose, it could be a sign of anger or distress.
Sara Taylor CPDT-KA, spcaLA director of animal behavior and training told Reader’s Digest that she mostly sees this behavior when dogs get hugged by kids or strangers. The solution? Politely ask the offending hugger to stop and give your dog a pat instead.
Next: This behavior is a classic warning.
5. He’s growling at you
A growl expresses so many emotions, but mostly it conveys that your dog is extremely upset about something. A dog growls to warn you that he’s about to lash out because whatever situation he’s facing is close to unbearable.
If your dog growls at you while you’re doing something to him, it means he’s mad about it and you should stop.
Next: People do this when they’re mad, too.
6. She’s avoiding eye contact
Just like people won’t look you in the eye when they’re angry, dogs are likely to look away to express their displeasure.
Dog training and behavior expert Erin Askeland, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA put it this way: “A dog who is happy and comfortable will likely be willing to make eye contact with his owner and seek out their attention whereas a dog who is angry or upset may avoid this type of interaction and move away from their owner, leave the room, or even sleep in a different area.”
Restore your bond by speaking softly, scratching her ears, and helping your dog relax.
Next: This could be a direct reaction to your anger or stress level.
7. He won’t obey commands
Stubbornness is absolutely a sign of anger or discomfort in your dog. If you know your pup is capable of sitting, staying, and rolling over but he simply refuses, try thinking about your own emotions. Your dog notices when you’re stressed or anxious and could be reacting to the overall vibe in your home. Practice calming exercises on yourself before trying to comfort your dog.
Next: Your dog might do this if he’s really really mad.
8. He stiffens up
“When a dog is really, really upset he’ll often go rigid, his body stiff, hard and unmoving,” Melissa McGrath-McCue CPDT-KA, pet behaviorist and author of Considerations for the City Dog told RD. “It’s almost as if he’s saying, ‘Take one more step, I dare you!'”
If your dog reaches this point of stress, it’s important to give him plenty of space to calm down so he doesn’t become defensive and lash out.
Next: You might not realize what this move is telling you.
9. Her tail is tucked in
Fear and anger often go hand in hand. When your dog assumes a posture with her tail tucked between her legs, it means she’s defensive and intimidated. Speak to her in soft, soothing voice and reassure her that you’re not angry anymore.
Next: Seeing this with any type of animal means trouble.
10. The whites of his eyes are showing
Anytime you see the whites of an animal’s eyes it means there’s some kind of problem. Pay close attention and figure out what your dog needs. Ever hear of someone being hangry? Sometimes fixing the problem is as easy as filling up his food bowl.
Next: This is also called “beast mode.”
11. She has a burst of rage
When your dog enters beast mode either with you or another dog, you’ll know it. These intense outbursts are thankfully over quickly. The best way to combat rage episodes? Minimize stress and maximize exercise and active play.
Next: Dogs have this behavior in common with toddlers.
12. He whimpers and whines
Dogs don’t speak with words, but they do tell you how they’re feeling using their doggy voices. If you forget to let your pup out of his crate, he’ll be sure to tell you about it. Don’t worry, though — even if he’s mad about your mistake, it’ll all be forgotten once you slip him a nice treat.
Next: This makes your dog sound like a little old man.
13. He moans and groans
This behavior happens most frequently when your dog is banished to an area far away from you and he doesn’t want to be. He can easily get upset about not being near you and may think he’s being punished unfairly.
Keeping your muddy pooch off the white carpets is perfectly fine, but be sure to give him lots of love and attention after he has a bath.
Next: She does this when she knows your mad, too.
14. She’s hiding from you
Crouching behind the couch isn’t just a sign of fear in dogs — it can also mean they’re stressed or even angry. When your dog is trying to escape from a certain situation by physically removing herself, it means she’s overwhelmed and can’t cope. It’s not likely she’ll return to your side until you fix whatever the problem is.
Next: Never chase your dog when he’s doing this.
15. He avoids your touch
Usually, there’s nothing your dog wants more than a loving touch from his owner. But if you notice your dog ducking away from your hand or trying to stay away from you, it could mean he’s annoyed and needs space.
It’s crucial not to chase your dog down when he exhibits this kind of behavior. Give him plenty of space and wait until he’s not upset with you to kiss and make up.
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