Common signs of anxiety in dogs include panting, a tucked tail, yawning and lip licking, turning away from people or other dogs and pacing. Some dogs may bark, whine or show additional white around the eye. Anxiety symptoms vary among individual dogs.
Generally, most dogs try to avoid anxiety-inducing situations. If the dog is slightly frightened or uncomfortable, the signs may be subtle. Refusing to make eye contact and turning away when looked at are common signals that a dog may show when meeting new people.
If a dog becomes very afraid and is not able to leave the situation, it may display signs of aggression such as barking and growling. Many so-called dominant or aggressive dogs are actually reacting out of fear and a misguided effort to protect themselves.
Fearful dogs need to be gradually conditioned to tolerate things that frighten them. Exposing them to a mild stimulus or allowing them to see scary things from a distance while rewarding good behavior with treats is generally effective in helping dogs overcome their fears. Properly socializing puppies prevents a lot of inappropriate fear later in life, as the puppy learns that things are safe. For things that cannot be avoided, like thunderstorms, provide the dog with a safe place to hide.