Ursachen für Stress bei Hund

Causes & Reasons for a restless or stressed dog [part 3]


Restlessness and stress can be caused by a lack of rest or incorrect utilization of the dog. Dogs need more rest periods than humans do. On average, a healthy adult dog will doze for 18 hours a day. You can find more about the need for rest and activity in the other blogs in this series.

Overload versus underload

The thought often buzzes in the heads of dog people that a dog that is working to capacity hears better. It is understandable that your dog needs to be busy and busy and that boredom triggers some problem behavior in dogs. However, the reason for employment should not be exhausting yourself, but a healthy amount of stimuli, impressions, movement and opportunities to rest. Elevated levels of cortisol encourage exercise in dogs to help metabolize excess cortisol through activity. A vicious circle is created: a stressed dog becomes a hyperactive dog that is stressed. Lack of rest and sleep leads to nervousness, lack of concentration and tension. As a dog person, the dog's behavior suggests that the dog needs more exercise. Incorrect! What such a dog needs is rest! 

Lack of sleep is not only a consequence of stress, but also the origin of other health problems and problem behavior. As a dog person, it's your job to teach your dog to be calm if your dog won't calm down. This not only helps in general behavior and health, but also promotes the processing of training, exercises and experiences.

How do you know that your dog is overexcited by the situation? 

  • your dog is hardly or not at all responsive
  • you are hardly noticed and there is little orientation
  • the muscles are tense and the ears alert
  • the dog does not lie down and is constantly in motion
  • Despite movement, your dog does not come to rest
  • your dog shows a lot of howling, squeaking, whining, barking, shaking
  • there are often skipping acts such as biting the leash, excessive digging, nervous jumping at people, etc.
  • your dog shows no signs of tiredness and demands more exercise
  • Food is refused

Rest and stress - what happens in the dog's body 

It's important to understand that chronic stress in dogs can lead not only to unpleasant behaviors, but also to health problems. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of infections, and even lead to serious conditions like heart disease and gastrointestinal problems.

Therefore, it is crucial that we give our dogs enough time to rest and sleep. Dogs require approximately 18 hours of rest per day, depending on age, health, and activity level. 

When we overwhelm our dogs in stressful situations, such as through too much training, too many social interactions, or too much sensory overload, it can lead to overuse. By giving our dogs enough rest and relaxation periods, we can help them feel more comfortable and balanced overall.

Reasons for restlessness in dogs - stress dog

Assuming your dog's needs are being met, other factors may be the reason the dog isn't resting. It should be understandable that lack of sleep and hunger lead to restlessness. A feeling of hunger can cause nervousness and reduce impulse control. We have already discussed how nerve food can have a positive influence in the article on impulse control mentioned. If your dog is fed enough and if it still tends to feel hungry, cellulose feed can be mixed into the food in consultation with your veterinarian in order to maintain a longer feeling of satiety. Carbohydrates can also promote rest. You can teach your dog to be calm, but other conditions play a role in your dog. These include hereditary factors and health reasons.

Predisposition & unfavorable development

Genetic disposition influences character and behavior. On the one hand, a restless bitch can genetically pass on this disposition and, on the other hand, demonstrate restless behavior to the puppies in her behavior. If puppies and young dogs also receive poor or insufficient socialization, this can have a negative effect on the general feeling of stress. The combination of nature and environment plays an important role in the rearing and later puppyhood.

Veranlagung und ungünstige Entwicklung beim Hund - Stress Hund
Predisposition and unfavorable development in dogs - stress dog


In addition to our dogs' need for rest, the level of activity depends on their breed and character. There is no art in activating a high-energy dog ​​such as a Husky, Terrier, Malinois, Border Collie, American Pitbull Terrier, etc. within a millisecond. These dogs go straight from 0 to 100 like a sports car. High-energy breeds are dogs that were bred to be highly active due to their breeding origins. When training high-energy dogs, the main focus should be on impulse control and frustration tolerance. These two core skills are helpful for all dogs and are essential for energetic breeds.

Auswirkung der Rasse auf Stress Hund
Impact of breed on dog stress​​

Lack of frustration tolerance & impulse control 

In everyday life, a lot of impulse control is required of our dogs. You can find out what influences your dog's impulse control and how you can influence it positively in the Impulse Control blog. In addition, we will show you with 3 training sessions each, how you can control impulses Beginner, Fadvanced and Testing can practice. 

When you are stressed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Too high cortisol levels prevent your dog from resisting impulses. If your dog does not calm down, he is less concentrated and shows less self-control. The better your dog can withstand impulses and frustration, the better your dog will calm down.

Impulskontrolle und Frustrationstoleranz beim Hund

Unlearned rest

If your dog doesn't calm down, it may be because your dog hasn't learned to calm down. A lack of socialization or a lack of experience in puppyhood and the young dog period can be a reason for unrest. Calmness can be learned if biological and health reasons can be ruled out. We show you rest exercises for inside and outside. Integrating rest into the dog's everyday life in the long term is more than just a little training. Build rest exercises regularly into your everyday life with your dog and let them become normal. Rest is not training that is practiced with treats, but a learning process that leads tension to relaxation. Teaching your dog to be calm means setting boundaries and providing reassurances. Rest exercises can be supplemented with movements that require concentration and balanced execution from your dog, rather than endurance. So that your dog can pursue its urge to move, you can perform the following movements with your dog:

  • Lettuce or Mikado, which your dog should step over slowly and with concentration
  • Ladders or slatted frames to climb over 
  • Sniff
  • Swimming without the stimulus of objects

Nicht gelernte Ruhe beim Hund - Stress Hund
Unlearned rest in the dog

background stressors 

Background stressors are everyday situations that lead to stress in dogs. This can be the general unrest in a large family, a multi-dog household or situations on your walk. Background stressors keep your dog's stress level high and prevent rest and relaxation. 

Volume, the weather, pain are background stressors. But also illness, lack of distance between child and person are a stress problem. A change in diet is also a background stressor. So it is everything in everyday life that can cause a dog to feel unwell over a long period of time.

Hintergrundstressoren beim Hund - Stress Hund
Background stressors in dogs

mood transfer

Mirror neurons are responsible for what is known as mood transmission. Research into mirror neurons began with the Italian researcher Giacomo Rizzolatti and his team in 1992 on macaque monkeys and is still in its infancy today. Mirror neurons ensure that action tendencies arise as a result of observation. This is superficially important for survival in groups or in herds and therefore very useful. If a herd animal spots an enemy, it will run and the others will follow. Choosing and hunting is made more difficult for the enemy and the survival of the herd members is ensured. Mirror neurons and the transmission of mood are essential to our survival. 

Mirror neurons are not only responsible for action patterns, but also, as the name "mood transmission" suggests, for mood and emotions. 

Mood transmission is intraspecific, e.g. B. between dog and dog and between species at z. B. humans and dogs possible. If you are stressed and restless, you unconsciously transfer this mood to your dog. Your dog perceives your restlessness through different signals: your posture, your voice, chemically through your sweat or through your actions. If your dog does not come to rest, the restlessness may be due to your current emotional state.

Stimmungsübertragung beim Hund


The thyroid is a small organ with a major impact on animals and humans. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate many processes in the body and influence the metabolism as well as the nerve cells and brain activity. In humans, we know that the thyroid has a significant impact on physical and mental health. In the case of hypofunction of the glands, the two hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine are increasingly produced. The consequences of an overactive thyroid include restlessness and nervousness. A blood test can be used to determine whether your dog has an overactive thyroid gland and what measures can be taken.

Schilddrüsenüberfunktion beim Hund


Hyperactivity is a diagnosis describing a dog exhibiting multiple symptoms of inappropriate stimulus and trigger sensitivity. In contrast to humans, there is still no one-to-one diagnostic sheet for dogs. When compared to dogs of the same breed and age group, there are a few symptoms to look out for that indicate hyperactivity. If you suspect that this could be the case with your dog, you should consult a dog behavior therapist.

  • Uninhibited behavior towards people
    • whining, poking, barking, destroying objects, wild greetings, jumping at people, excited "yelling", etc.
  • Reizempfindlichkeit
    • strong reaction to even the slightest noise, restlessness at home, restless "stalking" in the door and window area, reaction to oncoming people, intensive perception of natural sounds such as falling leaves, etc.
  • Endurance movements
    • Urge for constant movement, inability to settle down on their own, etc.
  • difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulty learning new things, being overwhelmed quickly, short concentration spans, etc.
  • Lack of impulse control on an emotional level
    • Strong emotions such as joy, the desire to play, but also fear or anger are experienced particularly intensively
  • Lack of frustration tolerance 
    • frustrating situations trigger skipping actions such as biting the leash, biting people, barking, squeaking, downright "going crazy".

Hyperaktivität beim Hund

Aid in the event of a lack of rest - the dog does not come to rest

Rest can be supported by various aids in addition to exercises. It is important to note that aids encourage, but without training, they do not induce effective rest. In our blog you will find effective rest training with free training plans. The tools work on different levels. The effectiveness is different for each dog and must be tested individually for you and your dog.


Music therapy is very common in some areas in humans. Music can promote relaxation in dogs. Results from Lindig et al. (2020) point out that animals (not just dogs) appear less stressed or anxious to classical music. So far there has been little research that deals with music and relaxation in connection with animals. Music can offer relief from turmoil in the home environment. In most studies, rest time and barking duration were assessed and measured as indicators of stress. Measured by cortisol levels and heart rate, classical music could induce calm. In addition to the genre, conditioning and the association with experiences and the music can also have a good effect. If your dog always lies relaxed next to you while you listen to your favorite music, the positive experience can calm your dog down.


CBD can be used in many ways in dogs and humans as a natural supplement. Dogs have their own endocannabinoid system, which works in a similar way to humans. This system is responsible for maintaining balance in the body and plays an important role in regulating mood, pain, inflammation, and many other processes. CBD is a natural substance extracted from the hemp plant and has many beneficial properties.Unfortunately, there is not much verifiable evidence that CBD has the same beneficial properties in dogs as it does in humans. However, it is believed that CBD can help dogs with pain, cramps, anxiety and stress, to support the immune system or to fight inflammation. But the important thing to know is that it is used as a support and not as a stand-alone problem solver.

herbs and fragrances

Herbs and scents can have a calming effect on dogs, especially when they are stressed and anxious. Chamomile, lavender, and valerian are three herbs that are often recommended for helping dogs relax. The herbs can be given to the dog via food to work internally or as an essential oil via a diffuser. The herbs should be started during a quiet phase. Only use high-quality and gently prepared herbs and essential oils. Essential oils can be irritating, especially when used in high concentrations or on sensitive skin. Let us advise you on the correct dosage and application.


The RelaxoPet is a device that emits specially tuned sounds for dogs, cats or horses, depending on the device. We could not find any evidence or studies that confirm the effectiveness of the RelaxoPet. Some dog people have already had good experiences, others didn't notice any difference. However, if we think about the conditioned relaxation, you can condition the relaxation with the RelaxoPet without disturbing people because the sounds are hardly perceptible to people. If you set up the RelaxoPet at home in a quiet environment as a relaxation sound while the dog relaxes, after a while the RelaxoPet can also be used in stressful situations (e.g. when driving a car) without it bothering you.

Cycles and Adaptile

Zylkène and Adaptil can act as natural aids to promote relaxation. Both tools promote calmness in temporary, transient stressful situations.  

Zylkène is made from skimmed milk. The calming effect is due to α-casozepine, which is produced in puppies' intestines as they digest mother's milk. The α-casozepine in turn increases the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid). GABA is responsible for all functions related to emotions, including stress. Adult dogs no longer produce α-casozepine, but the effect remains. Zylkène thus creates the well-known comforting feeling in adult dogs and supports the dog in being able to react more calmly to stressful situations. 

Adaptil is now available in different product forms: as a collar, as tablets, as an atomizer for the socket or as a spray. Adaptil works in the form of pheromones. Pheromones are messenger substances that help dogs to get information about each other. A mother dog releases pheromones through her teats, which are supposed to make the puppies feel safe and secure. Adaptil sends these same pheromones into your dog's environment and makes him feel safe. The feeling of security in turn creates relaxation.

Thundershirt and Tellington TTouch body tape

In stressful situations, a Thundershirt can be a possible help. Thundershirts are special tight-fitting t-shirts for dogs that apply even compression to the body. This is intended to have a calming effect on the dog, similar to swaddling babies. The compression of the shirt mimics a close touch, which is intended to give the dog a feeling of security and promotes the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.

The Tellington TTouch body strap can be used more variably than the Thundershirt, but requires a little more practice when putting it on. We recommend trying out both tools several times before using them in important situations. The calming effect depends heavily on the individual sensitivity of the dog. Dogs that find clothing or harnesses uncomfortable will also find wearing a thundershirt or body strap bothersome.

Whether and how much the compression of the shirt or the body band calms your dog and reduces stress, therefore depends on various factors and can vary in dogs due to individual needs and feelings - from annoying and stressful to calming and soothing.

Vitomalia's conclusion

In summary, there are many different factors that can cause a dog to be restless or stressed. A dog's disposition and adverse development, as well as its breed, can play a role. A lack of frustration tolerance and impulse control, as well as not being taught to be calm, can also be a cause of restlessness in dogs. Background stressors and mood transfers from masters or mistresses can also trigger stress. An overactive thyroid gland or hyperactivity can be further reasons for restlessness and stress in dogs.

It's important to identify the individual cause of the anxiety and take appropriate action to help your dog relax. This includes giving him adequate sleep and rest periods, as this can help reduce stress and maintain his health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, enough periods of rest and relaxation, as well as targeted education and training can help a dog become more balanced and stress-free.

However, it is also important to emphasize that every dog ​​is unique and has individual needs. If you are unsure how to help your dog manage his anxiety, you should always consult a veterinarian or a qualified dog trainer to get the best possible support for your dog.

What are the causes of restlessness and stress in dogs?

There are many possible causes, such as predisposition and unfavorable development, race, lack of frustration tolerance and impulse control, unlearned calmness, background stressors, mood transference, overactive thyroid or hyperactivity.

Should I give my stressed dog medication?

The decision as to whether medication is necessary for a stressed dog should always be made in consultation with a veterinarian. There are many alternative methods that can help reduce stress in a dog, such as relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, or special training methods.

Can I give my dog too much rest and relaxation?

It is important that a dog gets adequate exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and comfortable. However, too much rest and relaxation can cause a dog to become bored and unhappy. It is therefore important to find a balance between rest and activity.

Should I keep my stressed dog away from other dogs?

It depends on the cause of the stress. If the dog has problems with other dogs due to socialization or fear, it may make sense to keep them away from other dogs. However, if the dog is stressed due to loneliness or boredom, socializing with other dogs can help. However, it is always important to consider the individual needs of the dog and act accordingly.