What does a scared dog look like?
A scared dog will cower and look very afraid. He will be licking his lips and panting a lot. And he will be yawning. If the dog has bulging eyes or sagging eyes, knows as whale eyes, it is afraid. Another sign that the dog is afraid is when he is backing away and has his ears down. If the dog’s tail is straight and moving slowly it is anxious. If it is tucked between his legs, then the dog is afraid. Give a scared dog lots of space.
For additional help in recognizing dog body language please visit these amazing sites:
How to teach a child to interact with a fearful dog?
Scared dogs can easily bite a child if they do not get the space they need. Make sure your child knows what a scared dog looks like. Encourage the child to get down on the dog’s level and throw some treats to them. Help them understand to have the dog come to them and not go into the scared dog’s safe place.
It is your job to help your child stay safe and help reduce the dog bites that happen to children. You should never leave a child alone unsupervised with a dog, accidents happen.
Common signs that the dog is not comfortable in the situation from Victoria Stillwell:
- Yawning can be a sign that a dog is tired, but it also signals stress
- Lip licking or tongue flicking. Dogs lick their lips when nervous
- Brief body freezing – the dog is still for a few seconds before reacting
- Body freezing – the dog freezes until the threat goes away or he decides to use fight or flight
- ‘Whale Eye’ – the dog turns his head away but keeps looking at the perceived threat, showing the whites of his eyes
- Head turn – the dog will turn his head away from a fear source as a gesture of appeasement
- Furrowed brow, curved eyebrows – caused by facial tension
- Tense jaw – the mouth is closed, and the dog is preparing for action
- Hugging – a dog will gain comfort by holding onto his owner
- Low tail carriage – indicates discomfort and uncertainty
- Curved tongue – the tongue is curved at the edges from tension
- Raspy, dry-sounding panting – nervousness reduces saliva production
- Twitching whiskers – caused by facial tension
- Shaking – caused by adrenaline release
- Drooling – stress can also cause excessive salivation
- Lack of focus – an anxious dog finds learning difficult
- Sweaty paws – dogs sweat through their foot pads
- Piloerection – the hair on a dog’s neck and spine stands on end (like human goose bumps), making the dog appear bigger while releasing odor from the glands contained in the dog’s hair follicles