Understanding Dog Body Language

Dogs are very clear in their body language. If you take a moment to understand them, it is clear to tell if they are happy, sad, angry, nervous or afraid. Dogs use canine body language extremely well. Having the ability to read your dog’s body language will help you significantly in understanding your dog’s wants, needs and emotions. Find out here what your pooch is trying to tell you!

Dog’s Body Language

Canine Body Language

Tips on understanding body language of dogs by observing their eyes, mouth, ears, the dog´s tail, and the dog´s fur.

The Eyes

The eyes of your dog are extremely useful for a canine’s body language. The size and shape of the eyes can tell you a lot about how the dog is feeling. If your dog is happy, his eyes are normal shape (dependent upon dog breed). If your dog is threatened or stressed, his eyes will appear larger than normal. If your dog’s eyes are smaller than usual, this could also mean the dog is feeling stressed. Finally, if your dog is squinting his eyes, he may be doing so to be submissive or indicate pain.

The Mouth

The mouth is also a good indicator in establishing a dog’s body language. The positioning of their lips, jaws or teeth can indicate what they are attempting to say. If a dog is happy, her mouth will be slightly open or closed. If the dog’s mouth is open, she may be panting to cool her body down. This is their way of releasing heat. A dog who is submissive of afraid may have his lips slightly pulled back at the corners and/or yawn excessively. A dog who is being aggressive will show his teeth and may pull his lips up in order to display his front teeth.

The Ears

Each breed of dog has a different type of ear; however, we can still use the ears to indicate the dog’s body language. If the dog is relaxed, his ears will sit normal to his breed. If he is alert, the ears will sit higher on his head and he will direct his ears toward his interest. If your dog is showing aggression, her ears will be up and forward. If the dog is feeling frightened or submissive, the ears will be stuck to the sides of his head.

Dog Tails

Dog tails are a good indicator of dog body language. It is a common misconception that a dog who is waving his tail is always friendly. This is not true; a dog may wag his tail for a number of reasons, one of them just simply is that he is happy. If your dog is relaxed, his tail will be placed in a normal position. If your dog is happy, the tail will wag side to side. If he is extremely happy to see you, his tail may even wag in a circular motion. If your dog is feeling submissive or nervous, the tail is likely to sit low and potentially be tucked in between his legs. If the dog is alert, the tail will be held higher than normal and will be stiff. If the dog is attempting to threaten an animal or person, he will hold his tail high and move it back and forth with a rigid motion. This behavior may appear as if he is wagging his tail; however, his other body language should tell you he is not happy.

Dog Fur

The fur is likely to show a dog’s body language as well. You will notice a scared or stressed dog sheds their fur more than normal. This is often seen with a visit to the veterinarian. If your dog is experiencing something known as piloerection, where the hair stands up, this may be caused by fear, anger or anxiety. If the dog’s hair is standing up, you should look at your canine’s body language in full to determine the reason why.

Understanding body language is easy with the tips above. If you have any questions on dog body language ask our dog behaviorist!

Amber Johnson, Animal Behaviorist

Miss Amber Johnson has many years of experience with pets and is a licensed cat and dog nutrition and behavior specialist. She currently collaborates with PetPremium where she counsels clients in pet behavior and nutrition. The statements made in this article are the personal opinions of Miss Amber Johnson and based on independent experiences and could be different from the opinions of PetPremium Pet health Insurance or any other pet health insurance provider.

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