How to Read Your Dog’s Body Language

How to Read Your Dog’s Body Language

Because our furry friends can’t speak with us, it can be hard at times to figure out what they’re feeling or what they want. Learning how to decode your dog’s body language is a great way to get closer with your pet and gain a better understanding of how to interact with them. A dog’s body language is a powerful thing and can let you know when your dog is hungry, upset, scared, or happy. Below are some common emotions that dogs feel and their corresponding body language or movements.


Confident dogs are standing straight up their head high, ears perked, and eyes wide open. Their tail will be hanging gently, slightly curled, or relaxed. This means your dog is in a good mood, at ease, not threatened, and feeling friendly.


Happy is a very similar to emotion to confident in terms of dog body language. Everything will be the same, except for their tail which should be wagging and their mouth which should be open. A dog may even be panting a little if they are happy.


A dog in a playful mood will exhibit all the same signs as a confident and happy dog, but more exaggerated. Their tail will be wagging more frantically and their panting may increase. Playful dogs will often jump around and will almost always take up the “playful stance” of their front legs stretched forward and their rear end in the air.


Submissive dogs put their head down between their legs. Their ears are also often flat and they avoid eye contact or look to the side. Their tail will be low and may be swaying gently, but not tucked. Submissive dogs are not threatening but instead want to communicate that they are not looking for trouble.


An anxious dog will show similar signs to a submissive dog but will be very tense and often times shuddering or shivering. Tendencies of anxious dogs are to yawn excessively, lick their lips, and moan or whimper. Anxious dogs are very sensitive and fearful and may quickly become aggressive. If your dog is showing signs of being anxious, it’s best to divert their attention elsewhere a more positive stimuli.


Fearful dogs showcase a combination of submissive and anxious attitudes. Their bodies are always very low to the ground, their ears flat, and their eyes narrowed. Having a tail between the leg and shaking are also signs of fear. Fearful dogs may also bare their teeth, growl, or urinate because they feel threatened. A fearful dog can also turn aggressive quickly, so it’s best to move them into another location and distract them with positive attention.


Aggressive dogs are very tense in stance, with all four feet planted to the ground ready to lunge at any moment. Their ears are back, head straight, tail straight up, and eyes narrowed and intense looking. Aggressive dogs will bare their teeth, growl, and oftentimes bark threateningly. If you come into contact with an aggressive dog, never run away from, show fear, or make eye contact with it.

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