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Reading a dog’s body language: what you need to know

Do you ever look at your dog and wonder how they’re feeling? Just like humans, you can read a dog’s body language by paying close attention to some of their movements, actions, and appearance.

We’re going to help you decode your pet’s body language so the next time you’re wondering how they’re feeling, you can get a good idea.

A happy dog will have a generally relaxed demeanor.

Their eyes will be their normal shape, mouth slightly open and their ears in their usual position.

We usually associate a wagging tail with a happy pup too, but did you know a tail wag can be for more than one emotion?

Reading a dog's body language: what you need to know

What does the tail show?

If your dog has their tail in between their legs or low down, this can mean they’re nervous, uncomfortable, or fearful.

When it’s in the air that could signal confidence.

A wagging tail will require a bit more attention.

If your dog is clear expressing excitement and happiness, a wagging tail will usually be a good sign that they are extra happy.

If the dog is standing firm and is showing a defensive stance, a wagging tail in this instance may mean they are frustrated.

Dachshund puppy looking at a treat (out of reach) over a table

Eyes can say a lot

We all know what puppy dog eyes are – wide eyes looking up with a pleading expression on their face.

A dog’s eyes can show many moods, however.

Squinting can mean they’re feeling ill whereas wide eyes can be a sign of aggression or feeling threatened.

Dog with mouth on a person's hand

Mouth moods

If a dog bites, that is anger with an intent to harm.

It’s a sign of aggression and you should consult a professional if your dog bites – regardless of how hard it is.

However, there is something called ‘mouthing‘ which can mean aggression or playfulness.

This is where your dog puts their mouth around your hand but doesn’t bite.

To get an understanding of whether this is out of anger or they’re playing, look at their body language.

If they’re relaxed and clearly happy to see you, they’re playing.

If they appear standoffish and stiff, this is a sign of anger.

If your dog shows its teeth, they’re telling whatever they’re giving that expression to back off.

Yawning can mean that they’re sleepy (just like us!), but if you see them yawning often this could mean they’re stressed.

While we’re not expecting you to track your pup’s yawns, just look out for when they’re doing it.

White furry dog with big smile

Are they making noise?

Dogs can bark for a number of reasons to alert you, to demand attention, to show aggression because they’re playing or fearful, or they’re feeling anxious.

Note what sets off your dogs barking to determine what’s causing it.

If it’s when they’re playing with their favorite toy you know it’s playful, if it’s when a stranger comes into the home, that could be to alert you.

You can train your dog to control their barking habits easily with the right tools, patience, and dedication.

We hope that now when you’re looking at your dog and wondering how they’re feeling you have a good idea.

Monica McConnell

Sunday 13th of December 2020

It is so important that you learn to read your dogs ques

Burak Köroğlu

Tuesday 10th of November 2020

Thanks for the useful informations..

monique s

Sunday 1st of November 2020

As they cannot talk, reading body language is important

megan allen

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

Love this!!

Sarah L

Monday 19th of October 2020

And watch the ears, too. They tell a lot.

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