The Traffic Lights of Fear and Anxiety


Is you pet in the green and good to go or showing warning signs that things are not quite as relaxed as they could be sitting somewhere in the middle  or is your pet in the red zone?

Unfortunately pets do not have the ability to talk and tell us how they feel. It is up to us to learn how to read their body language and what they may be trying to tell us.

It is especially important to be able to read when your pet is stressed or fearful so you can  remove them from a situation before it escualtes further or results in aggression.

Our Traffic Lights of Fear and Anxiety highlight the visual signs dogs show when experiencing different levels of anxiety or stress. Familiarise yourself with the signs so you can learn to read your dog’s body language.

● Showing no signs of fear or anxiety and able to listen, learn and think clearly
● Relaxed body posture and facial expressions
● Will take treats
● Accepts pats
● Shows interest in environment and people in it

● May not always take treats
● Body posture stiff
● Looking away
Starting to show the first of the 4 F’s:
Fiddle signs
● Licking lips
● Yawning
● Body shake
● Sniffing
● Mounting
● Jumping
● pacing
● Putting paw up
● Teeth chattering
● Barking
● Hypervigilance- looking everywhere, very aware of their environment

● Body might be shaking
● Posture very rigid
● Face is tight- tight gum line, furrowed brown, staring eyes, ears doan/ back
Starting to show the other F’s
May become stiff and do not move, they are frozen by fear
May constantly be moving away and trying to hide
May growl, bare teeth, snap, bite

If you are noticing your pet showing signs of stress frequently or at times when you think they shouldn’t be worried, then these may be early signs that your pet is not coping with the situation they are in and may be due to underlying anxiety.

Document when you notice these behaviours and do not hesitate to book an appointment to discuss with your Fur Life Vet.

Behaviour Bites with Dr Ash

Behaviour Bites

with Dr Ash Hargreaves

Hi my name is Ash and I am a vet practicing in Warrnambool in the western district of Victoria.
I am passionate about animal behaviour and the mental health of our pets.
After graduating as a vet in 2015 I completed further studies in veterinary behaviour and now provide behaviour consultations along with general practice.
You can follow me on Instagram and Fur Life Vet on Facebook via the links below and stay tuned to the website for some super articles on pet behaviour.

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