Reading Your Dog's Body Language

Dogs have their own unique body language just as people do. However, when you learn to interpret your dog's body language, you can better understand what he or she is saying based on their body, ears, eyes, and tail. Understanding your dog's body language is important, and it helps you to learn what other dogs are may be telling you that you are not familiar with.

When Your Dog is Happy
Most people with dogs know when their dog is happy because the body language is easy to read. The tail is typically wagging fast, ears are perked up, eyes wide open, and their mouths are relaxed. The body is straight, but the back end may be wiggling with the tail wagging. A happy and excited language is easy to read.

The Anxious Dog
When your dog is anxious, you will be able to read it in his or her body language. First, their ears will be partially laid back, while their eyes are not as wide open as they are when they are happy. Their mouth closed, the body appears tense, and they may even be lowering a bit as with the submissive position. Tail will be partly down, and the dog may whine. Anxious dogs are typically those that have separation anxiety when they know their owner is leaving or they are in unfamiliar territory.

The Fearful Dog
When a dog is fearful it can often be mistaken for aggression, which is why it is important to note the differences. First, his or her ears are typically laid flat on the head, whites of eyes will be showing and the eyes are squinted or narrowed. Moreover, the body appears tense, crouched down, your dog may be shivering (trembling), and the backside is in a downward angle with tail tucked between the hind legs. Some fearful dogs will whine or even yelp depending on the situation.

The Alert and Confident Dog
This is often confused with the happy body language because they can be very similar in many ways. For instance, the dog's ears are straight up (or perked up if you have a floppy-eared dog), eyes wide open with no whites showing, their body is relaxed and standing straight, with their tails up (if your dog's tail naturally curls , then it will be up and on his back). There is typically no whining or barking when your dog is simply alert.

Aggressive Dog
The aggressive body language is very easy for people to read because the dog looks wicked, makes growling, and snarling noises. Typically, the ears may be back or forward, eyes fixed on the target, lips open, teeth showing (snarling), body appears tense, and they are in a dominant stand on all fours with the body hair puffed up, and the tail straight in the air.

Final Thoughts

By knowing the different body language signals your dog or another dog has helped you to understand what your dog is trying to say or feeling. If you see a dog that you are unfamiliar with taking the aggressive stance, you need to move away slowly from the dog as soon as you can to take safety.