Signs of Canine Stress During Training Sessions

Sometimes during training your pet can become confused and worried because he does not realize what you are asking of him. This can be a problem particularly if you have a new dog and you are still learning about each other. We do after all speak a completely different language to our canine friends despite being able to communicate perfectly in so many ways.

So, I am going to give you an idea of behaviors to look out for and what they mean in your dog’s language. If your pet is displaying any of these behaviors during training then it is time to go back to something he can manage easily for a while before building up to the command you are currently teaching him.


A dog will yawn when he is becoming stressed. It is easy to interpret this yawn as tiredness but it is actually a calming signal for your dog. When interacting with each other dogs will yawn to show that they would prefer to keep clear of any direct confrontation. The yawn displayed during training is similar; it means that your pet is feeling insecure, confused or starting to get stressed.

Scratching himself

If your dog is learning something new yet suddenly stops what he is doing and takes a long scratch at himself then he could be confused. If this behavior is displayed then examine whether you have moved onto something more difficult which he could be having trouble learning. Scratching in this way is a delaying tactic because he doesn’t know what to do next. If scratching behavior is excessive, however, it may be worth seeing your veterinarian because it could be caused by a medical problem.


Another delay tactic, the dog that sniffs the ground to excess during a training session may be showing signs of confusion. He does not know what to do next so chooses another tactic altogether. This is called displacement behavior and if displayed then your dog needs a confidence boost to be able to continue learning.

If the three signs above are not recognized the next stage for your dog is more obvious stress based behavior. He may begin to pant, refuse treats which he would normally enjoy or even attempt to remove himself from the situation altogether. When this stage has been reached a dog is unable to learn very much at all. So during training keep the mood light vary the difficulty levels and, most important of all, observe your dog at all times to get the best results.


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