Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language


Haven’t we all wished at least once that we could talk to our dogs? It would be amazing to be able to easily communicate with our loved pets, and even though our dogs certainly can’t talk to us, they do display certain body language indicators that reveal their emotions or actions.

It’s always good to know and understand what their body language is portraying in case the dogs feel uncomfortable or threatened. Being aware of this can also lead to a better understanding of the likes and dislikes of your pet. The following are only some of the various body indicators dogs may show under different circumstances:

Signs of Relaxation
If the dog has its’ tail down in a relaxed manner, its’ mouth slightly open with the tongue exposed and has a relaxed body position, he/she is likely relaxed and comfortable. Dogs also usually display signs of happiness and relaxation when they are panting and have their eyes slightly closed.

Signs of Being Alert
Dogs usually move their ears forward, close their mouths, and become visibly tense if they suddenly become alert and are trying to check something/someone out. Another lesser known indicator of an alert dog is a slowly-wagging horizontal or raised tail. Some dogs also tend to lean forward and put their body weight on their front paws if they become alert.

Signs of Distress
Whenever dogs feel distress, they put their ears back, lowers both their head and body, and put their tails low. In cases of significant stress, dogs’ pupils can also become dilated, and they may begin to pant rather rapidly.

Signs of Aggression
Perhaps one of the easiest body languages to understand a dog is when they are feeling aggressive and may be prone to attack. Dogs’ posture and tail visibly changes to a stiff position, sometimes to the extent where the tail becomes bristled. Wrinkling of the forehead and nose are main indicators of an aggressive dog; yet, some dog breeds do not wrinkle as much as others. Lastly, a curled lip with teeth showing also demonstrates the aggressiveness a dog may have.

Signs of Fear
A fearsome dog will lower its’ body and ears, and often times try to lick the owner or another dog as a sign of submission. A frightened dog will also demonstrate its’ emotion through short, but direct eye contact; and, in cases of extreme fear or when trying to demonstrate acknowledgment of the owners’ power, dogs will tuck their tails and lay on its’ back with all paws on the air.

Signs of Playfulness 
When dogs are feeling playful and are ready for the park or a play-date, they often arch their bodies low, with their front paws bent, before jumping or running. Their tails wag and their mouths are usually open, sometimes with an exposed tongue.