Understanding your dog’s body language

Knowing how your dog is feeling can help you to know how to make them most comfortable and can also give you important warning signs that they may be more easily spooked.

Dogs have a unique language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and intentions to those around them, not just with other dogs but with humans too.

Although they do use a lot of sounds and signals to gain your attention, they send the majority of information through their body language and posture, as well as through their facial expressions.

Knowing how your dog is feeling can help you to know how to make them most comfortable and can also give you important warning signs that they may be more easily spooked.

Your dog is relaxed if:

  • Their tail is relaxed and hanging downwards
  • Their ears are up
  • Their head is high
  • Their mouth is open slightly
  • They are standing with weight flat on feet

 

Your dog is alert if:

  • Their tail is horizontal (but not stiff)
  • Their ears are forward or twitching
  • Their eyes are wide
  • They have a smooth nose and forehead
  • They are standing taller than usual

 

Your dog is aggressive if:

  • Their tail is raised and bristled
  • There heckles are raised
  • Their ears are forward and spread slightly
  • Their nose is wrinkled
  • Their teeth are visible
  • Their mouth is open and C-shaped
  • Their body is leaning forward

 

Your dog is fearful and aggressive if:

  • Their tail is tucked
  • There heckles are raised
  • Their ears are back
  • Their nose is wrinkled
  • Their lips are curled
  • The corners of their mouth are pulled back
  • Their body is lowered

 

Your dog is stressed and distressed if:

  • Their tail is down
  • Their ears are back
  • Their pupils are dilated
  • They are panting
  • They sweating through their feet pads
  • Their body is lowered

 

Your dog is fearful and worried if:

  • Their tail is down
  • Their ears are back
  • Their forehead is smooth
  • Their eye contact is brief and indirect
  • They lick the air or a dominant dog
  • The corners of their mouth are pulled back
  • A paw is raised
  • Their body is lowered

 

Your dog is feeling extreme fear if:

  • Their tail is tucked
  • Their ears are flat and back
  • Their nose and forehead are smooth
  • Their head is turned to avoid eye contact
  • Their eyes are partly closed
  • The corners of their mouth are pulled back
  • They are rolled onto their back, exposing their stomach

 

Your dog is feeling playful if:

  • Their tail is up
  • Their tail is waving
  • Their ears are up
  • Their pupils are dilated
  • Their mouth is open and tongue may be exposed
  • Their front end is lowered towards you

Know the signs to look out for plays a huge part in knowing that your dog is happy and healthy. Your dog will thank you for learning their language.