My dog’s hair is standing upright, what does it mean?

Dog outside walk hair stand upright

Animals have their own language to communicate amongst each other and with humans. It’s important to learn how to decipher their behavior so that you can understand what they are trying to communicate. This can sometimes be complicated. For example, there are several reasons why a dog’s hair might stand upright. In this article, Letsgetpet explains why your dog’s hair stands upright and what it means.

Fear or anxiety can cause their hair to stand upright

When a dog’s hair stands upright, it’s a normal reaction that can be compared to when a human has goosebumps. This can be caused by different factors such as fear and anxiety. When a dog is confronted with a situation that they find threatening, their nervous system releases stress hormones like adrenaline. Their muscles start to contract under their skin and their hair follicles straighten out. All of this is a way of defending themselves against the threat that they perceive. However, it’s important to point out that when a dog has their hair standing upright, it doesn’t systematically mean that they are frightened.

There are other signs that can help you determine for sure if your dog is scared. You can take a look at their back and the base of their tail because these are zones where the hair stands up when dogs are scared or anxious. The hair straightens and creates a sort of ridge along their spine. In addition, the hair on their shoulders and the zones around their neck can stand upright in some cases.

To determine whether or not your dog is scared, take some time to observe their general behavior. When frightened, a dog’s ears turn towards their back and they hide their tail between their legs. They can also get into a defensive position by showing their teeth and growling or curling up to make themself as small as possible. If you are able to recognize these signs, you’ll be able to help your dog overcome their anxiety and fear. This can be by creating a healthy and safe environment, for example.

Irritation: a reason why your dog’s hair can stand upright

When dogs are annoyed, they usually show this by having the hair on their neck, back, and tail stand upright. While these are almost the same zones as fear and anxiety, it’s not very likely that you’ll confuse these two situations. Annoyance is in reality a complex manifestation of the nervous system. A dog’s body is caught up in a whirlwind of emotions, and they respond to this by having their hair stand upright. In addition, their appearance becomes puffy and disheveled. If your dog is annoyed, they might also show their teeth, bark, or growl. Their ears would be facing towards the front and their tail would be tense. You might also see your dog curls their lips and prepare to attack.

You can also observe the eyes of your dog to see if they are annoyed. A fixed and intense stare means that they are concentrating completely on the threat that is perceived. If these different signs accompany hair standing upright on the back, neck, and tail, you can do what is necessary to calm them down. You can, for example, get them to go way from what is bothering them for a moment to distract them. Consider also taking them to a canine specialist to minimize aggressive reactions.

Excitement, a reason for hair standing upright

High levels of excitement could also cause your dog’s hair to stand on end. It’s often associated with moments of joy and euphoria. Playing or anticipation of an activity or a joyful encounter can make them really excited. This leads to the release of hormones such as dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and rewards. The influence of this hormone on a dog’s hair is reflected in a slight bristling of the hair on their back and neck. As you can see, this phenomenon is not only linked to their fear, anxiety or annoyance. You can see the difference in the general attitude of your dog.

Hair standing upright because of excitement is often accompanied with joyful behavior. For instance, your dog might let out expressive barks, move around rapidly, or jump enthusiastically. They might also wag their tails frenetically and get into a playful posture with their front legs lowered and hindquarters raised. This position shows engagement and enthusiasm. Excitement can also be triggered when encountering another dog. In this case, your dog’s hair standing upright and their body language would be showing their desire to invite the other dog to play.

Husky hair stand upright
Dogs, for example, tend to have their hair stand upright in a variety of situations.

Domination, a factor explaining why a dog’s hair might stand upright

An encounter between two dogs is not always friendly. If your dog is dominant, they will try to establish their status as a leader in front of the other dog. To do this, the hair on their neck, back, and tail will stand upright so that they look bigger visually and can impress their adversary. They could also straighten their ears to show confidence and self-assurance. Other aspects of your dog’s body language can indicate their intentions to dominate. For instance, they might stand straight and rigidly, holding their head up high, and maintaining direct eye contact. It’s possible that you might also see them show their teeth, growl, or let out powerful barks.

These different behaviors are designed to establish your dog’s dominance in the social hierarchy. However, this doesn’t mean they’ll do it every time they encounter a new dog. It’s possible for a dog to show themself as dominant with some dogs and completely submissive with others. Whatever the case may be, you need to learn to recognize these signs and adopt a consistent approach to training and socialization. It’s important to encourage positive and balanced behavior between dogs. This helps them to maintain harmonious relationships.

Others causes for a dog’s hair to stand upright

A dog’s hair might stand upright because of various physical discomforts (pain, itchiness, allergies, skin problems). Certain internal conditions can be the cause of unpleasant sensations. Dogs can have their hair stand upright to attract attention to the discomfort they are feeling. Therefore, be sure to pay attention to the signs they are sending you. Any change in their behavior should alert you. If their hair standing upright is not accompanied with any other obvious signs of fear, excitement, domination, or annoyance, you should bring your dog to the vet to identify the cause of the issue.

A dog could have their hair stand upright as a reaction to a sound. Because of their abrupt nature, thunder sounds or fireworks can sometimes cause fear or stress in dogs. Their hair stands upright to protect themself and prepare for a threatening situation. Certain unknown objects can also trigger this reaction. It can be explained by apprehension, incertitude, and curiosity. Additionally, hair standing upright can also be caused by particular odors, whether or not they are new, potentially threatening or unusual.

If your dog has their hair standing upright, you need to observe their behavior closely to understand the real cause of the problem. To handle the situation well, you should train and educate your dog. Among other things, you can start exposing them to new things as early as possible, so that they can gradually become accustomed to the unknown. It’s important to teach them how to socialize with other dogs. You can also integrate calming signals into their education. Notably yawning, licking or avoiding looking can indicate to your dog that a situation is not dangerous.

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