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Spectrum of Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS Score) in Dogs | Pupford

December 26th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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As pet parents, it’s crucial to understand the emotional well-being of our beloved pets. Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) are common emotions that dogs may experience. In this article, we will shed some light on the spectrum of these emotions to give you a better understanding of how your dog is really feeling.

To do this, we will reference the Fear, Anxiety, and Stress Spectrum , aka FAS score, created by Fear Free Pets. Let’s get started!

  1. What is FAS?
  2. FAS Scale

Let's get right to it. 👇


dog showing obvious signs of fear

FAS, specifically as it relates to dogs, stands for Fear, Anxiety, and Stress. Understanding the nuances of these emotions is fundamental to addressing your dog’s emotional needs. While these emotions may seem interchangeable, they exist on a spectrum, each with its own triggers and manifestations.

🐶 Expand your knowledge of dog body language, stress signals & communication. Access the Dog Body Language Course today!


  • Fear is a natural response to a perceived threat or danger
  • Identifying fear in dogs: Trembling, cowering, tucked tail, ears pinned back
  • Triggers: Loud noises, unfamiliar environments, strangers


  • Anxiety is a prolonged state of unease or apprehension
  • Signs of anxiety: Excessive panting, pacing, destructive behavior
  • Triggers: Separation from their owner, changes in routine, unfamiliar people or animals


  • Stress is the body’s response to challenging situations
  • Physical signs of stress: Dilated pupils, excessive shedding, changes in appetite
  • Triggers: Lack of routine, medical issues, overcrowded spaces


fas scale dogs

Fear Free Pets breaks down FAS on a scale of 0-5. 0 being relaxed with no signs of fear, anxiety, or stress, and 5 being severe signs of fear, anxiety, and stress. Let's take a deeper dive into the FAS scale!

🐶 Expand your knowledge of dog body language, stress signals & communication. Access the Dog Body Language Course today!


At FAS 0 your dog is relaxed. They have neutral body language with a soft face, their pupils have normal dilation, their body is loose, and their tail is neutral with potentially some small tail wags. At this score, they may even be sleeping.

FAS 0-1

At FAS 0-1 your dog may be starting to feel anxious as well as alert, excited, or interested. Their tail may rise, their ears may begin to perk forward, their pupils may begin to slightly dilate, and their face may become more tense as they begin to have more excitement.


At FAS 1 your dog will start showing subtle signs of FAS. These signs may include lip licking, avoiding eye contact, lifting their paw, partially dilated pupils, along with some slight panting.


AT FAS score of 2 your dog will start showing moderate signs of FAS. Their ears may be slightly back, their tail will be held low but not entirely tucked, their brow may become furrowed, they begin to fidget and be unable to settle, their mouth may tighten as they pant, and their pupil dilation will increase.

**Fidgeting is one of dogs' four Fear Responses; learn more about fear responses here.


At FAS 3 your dog will likely be showing body language very similar to FAS 2. They may also start to refuse treats and be hesitant to interact with people or animals around them.

dog nervous about puppies


At FAS 4 your dog will be showing severe signs of FAS. Depending on their fear response, they will either freeze or attempt to flee. If they freeze, they will become immobile, with dilated pupils, increased respiratory rate, tense face, tail tucked, and a tense body. If their fear response is flight, they will have very similar body language as described previously, but they will attempt to escape the situation and they may also have whale eyes and excessive panting.

Learn even more about dog body language here.


At FAS 5 your dog will also be showing severe signs of FAS, but they may respond with a fight-fear response. This can be displayed with offensive or defensive aggression.

With offensive aggression, your dog will be lunging forward, their tail will be high, their ears forward, their hackles up, and they will show their front teeth with tight lips.

If they are displaying defensive aggression, they may still have hackles up, with dilated pupils and showing all of their teeth, but their body will be crouched in an attempt to retreat with their ears back and tail tucked.


dog showing fas 3 on the fas scale | Pupford

Understanding the spectrum of fear, anxiety, and stress in your dog is a crucial aspect of responsible pet parenting.

By looking into fear-free resources and incorporating positive reinforcement techniques into your training routine, you can create a harmonious and stress-free environment for your pup. The FAS score can help you take a quick snapshot view of how your dog is feeling!

What question do you have about the FAS score for dogs? Ask in the comments.

Want to learn more about your dog's communication? Access the Dog Body Language Course here!

🐶 Expand your knowledge of dog body language, stress signals & communication. Access the Dog Body Language Course today!


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