4 min read


Can Dogs Be Upset?



4 min read


Can Dogs Be Upset?


Like any species, dogs are complex creatures who express their emotions just like anyone else. When we have had our furry friends for a good while, we begin to be able to understand what emotions they are feeling and are able to respond back accordingly. 

When we think about it, we are communicating with our pups in a way that does not require speech, just facial expressions, and movements. When dogs are happy, we are accustomed to seeing them jump up and down and wag their tails back and forth. What happens though when they are upset? How do they react to unpleasant situations?


The Signs Your Dog is Upset

When you have had your pup for a good while, it is fairly easy to know what mood they are in based on how they are acting around you. You can usually understand just what they are feeling. If you have a newer dog or you are unsure of what is going on with your pup, look for these signs if you feel they may be upset, or depressed about something. 

If you notice that your dog is pacing, this could be a sign that they are feeling anxious or upset about something to the point where they are restless and unable to sit still. Another sign to watch out for is if they begin chewing on items that they normally would just leave alone. If they start becoming destructive, this is a definitive sign that they are unhappy with something. 

On top of those signs, another one to look out for is if they start growling or becoming highly aggressive. This is something you definitely hope to avoid, but if they start becoming increasingly aggravated, just be aware that something is highly upsetting them and it needs to be figured out immediately. 

Lastly, if you see your pup is acting lethargic and staring off into space, you may need to try to stimulate their senses with something as simple as their favorite toy. While doing this, keep your eyes on their face. Watch their eyes and see if they show any signs of interest in the item you are holding. If they continue to stare off into space and seem uninterested, they are more than likely feeling down in the dumps.

Body Language

These are some signs you can look for to see if your dog is upset:

  • Growling
  • Staring
  • Chewing
  • Pacing

Other Signs

Other things to watch out for include:

  • Excessive Grooming
  • Acting Strange
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Staying In One Spot All Day

History of Dogs Expressing Emotions


Dogs have been around for upwards of 32,000 years based on when they first became domesticated. They have long been man's best friend and have taken care of humans by being the best companions. 

When thinking of dogs, we really only hear about how happy they are, or how excited they are. We never really consider them as unhappy beings. What is up with that? Dogs are much more complex than we truly know, so when did dogs start expressing their emotions? 

Since they were domesticated so many years ago, we have to assume that these canines have been expressing their emotions ever since then. They didn't just one day begin to express what they were feeling. It was probably the other way around. 

More than likely, it was us humans who began realizing that these animals had something to say. Over the years, stories have popped up about dogs saving their owners life by recognizing they were stressed and the dog was able to run for help. Examples like these show that dogs understand emotions and are able to express their own in the way of helping others. 

They are smart creatures who have always been around and they will express their emotions in the way they best know how, whether it be through wagging their tail when happy or growling when they are upset.

The Science Behind Pups Being Upset


As previously mentioned, dogs have always been around and they have always expressed what they have felt. Us humans have learned over time to be able to read a dog's facial expressions and their body movements. There have been studies created to help us understand just how far a pup's emotions are able to extend. 

Numerous studies have provided us with enough evidence to show that dogs are able to experience a range of emotions, including being sad, upset or depressed. What makes dogs unique is that not all animals are able to express so many emotions. Dogs are not only able to express an incredible amount of emotions, but they are also able to respond to the emotions of others around them.

Training Your Dog To Properly React to Being Upset


This is a tough one to figure out, meaning that it is quite difficult to change your dog's personality enough to make them react to things differently than they currently do. When dogs are upset, they will show you in various ways that they are unhappy. 

While some dogs may show you they are unhappy by chewing your slipper, other canines may show their distress by becoming aggressive and growling or even possibly attacking someone who may have aggravated them. 

When we think about it like this, these are dogs with different personalities and as such, they will require different training to help them express their emotions a little better than they currently do. A general thing to do to help train your pup on how to react to being upset is to praise them when they are reacting in non-destructive ways. 

When a dog eats your shoe, you don't want to create more stress, but you can let them know that you don't appreciate what they did by simply telling them "no" if you catch them in the act. They will usually understand that what they did was wrong and they will be able to try something different to show how they feel. 

When they are telling you they are upset by pacing or licking themselves excessively, go to them and pet them, take them on a walk, or try to get them excited to go outside. They will begin to understand that when they are unhappy, you will do your best to help them out.

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How to Safely React to Fido Being Upset

  1. If your pup is showing aggression, be careful while trying to approach them. Let them know you are only trying to help. Using treats to get closer to them is a good way to do this.
  2. If you do notice your dog is unusually upset, try to figure out if they are not feeling well or if they are just unstimulated in some way. If needed, take them to the vet if things do not improve

By a Keeshond lover Molly Martin

Published: 02/16/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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