The Four Ways Dogs React When They Feel Uneasy

Dogs have a very specific way of communicating their feelings, but owners don’t always understand what their actions mean. When a dog freezes and refuses to move on a walk, it can be frustrating. Dogs, like people, experience times when they feel uneasy. They’re often intuitive by instincts that warn them of possible danger. It’s always a good idea to heed the warning of your pet whether it’s to protect your and your dog’s physical safety or to help to soothe and comfort your dog when he is feeling uneasy. Here are four ways that dogs react when they feel uneasy with or without going into the freeze mode.


When you’re out walking your dog and he suddenly freezes, there is usually a very good reason for this behavior. Dogs sometimes freeze when there is a sense of fear. This type of uneasiness signals that the dog senses some type of danger within the environment. Look around the area to see if there is anything that could have triggered a stress response that makes your dog feel fearful.


If there is another dog nearby and your dog freezes, it could mean that he is gearing up for a fight. This is a situation that could require all the strength that you can muster unless you act quickly. You can usually tell by the surroundings and other indications that your dog makes if he is getting ready for a fight. The best option is to remove him from the source of the problem and take a different route to get away from any potential sparring partners on your walk.


When a dog becomes fearful or uneasy he may respond with the inborn instinct to take flight. Although preferable to the fight instinct, be on your guard so he doesn’t pull your arm out of the socket with the leash if he suddenly bolts in the other direction. This response can occur right after your dog assumes the freeze posturing.


The classic Freeze stance signals that something big is going on inside your dog’s mind. He’s either scared, interested in something he sees, hears or smells, or analyzing the situation. Some dogs freeze when they find something on the ground that they want to further investigate

Fooling around

If your dog starts acting goofy out of the blue, he is experiencing a displacement behavior that is a natural response for relieving stress that he is feeling. It’s an indication that he is very uneasy, especially if he doesn’t have a good reason for the behavior he’s showing. According to the dog experts at The Bark, these are the 4 behaviors that are known as the 4 Fs.

How to tell when your dog is feeling uneasy

We’ve learned that there are a lot of different reasons why a dog may freeze, and even when he’s fooling around and acting silly, it may be a stress response and not an act of happiness. How do you know the difference? Some dogs who freeze are not really frightened, which makes it tough to tell what they’re communicating. The best way to read your dog’s unspoken language is to be aware of the potential meanings of their actions and what else to look for to decipher dog speak.

Pulling his ears back and shaking

when your dog pulls his ears back it is a sign that he is feeling uneasy. Look for this gesture when you don’t understand your dog’s behavior. If your dog is freezing or shaking at the same time it is an almost certain bet that he is feeling extremely anxious. about something.

Your dog bares his teeth

When your dog pulls his ears back, curls his lips up, and bares his teeth, he is uttering a warning. This is an extreme that signals your dog may be going into fight or flight mode. It’s usually a response to fear or some type of threat. If someone is harassing or teasing a dog, or there is another animal or even person nearby that signals a threat, this is an emotional response that warns the perceived offender that a fight is possible.


Barking happens for a variety of reasons. Some dogs bark when they’re happy to see someone or they may bark to warn of a potential intruder or another type of threat. Some dogs bark out of fear, while others do so out of anger, or from being playful. If your dog barks watch for other signs of distress so you’ll more fully understand the reason for the barking.

Tail between the legs

A dog will tuck his tail between his legs when he is fearful or when he feels vulnerable. This is a telltale sign of negative emotion in dogs.

Body stiffening

A dog who stiffens his body is showing extreme discomfort, and possible aggression. This is a classic movement that a dog makes prior to making a lunge. If your dog stiffens his body, it could be a sign that he is on high alert and ready to take some sort of defensive action.

Avoiding eye contact

Dogs who avoid eye contact are showing a sign of anxiety. Dogs who are anxious tend to avert their eyes. This is also common when a dog feels shame after doing something that they know they’re not supposed to do.

Final thoughts

If you pay attention to your dog’s behavior, you’ll be able to figure out what his body language is telling you. There are four major behaviors that dogs do to tell you they feel uneasy. Other signs combined with the original four can confirm your suspicions. Dogs usually have a reason for most of their actions, and it’s easy to confuse the things they do with emotions they may not be feeling. Get to know your dog and be on the lookout for signs that he is feeling uneasy so you will know how to comfort and protect him.

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