How to Understand Your Dog’s Body Language

How to Understand Your Dog’s Body Language



Body language refers to various forms of nonverbal communication, wherein the physical body reveal clues as to some unspoken intention or feelings through behavior. Body language exists in both animals and humans. Dog cannot talk with us, but they can communicate with us effectively by using body language. Different physical behavior can be expressed by the dog’s mood or actions.

It is helpful when you know your dog’s communication methods, as you are more likely to make the right response to those gestures. Pet owners can easily get to know their dogs, and get along with them better, by understanding body language.

While some of these gestures can appear very similar to your own, they can have very different meanings. Dog owners should learn to use their body language to communicate effectively with their pets. Below you will find a dog body language chart that may help you get to know your dog a little better.

Dog’s Body Language 


Can Dogs Really Smile?

When your dog is happy, he will relax his body. When his muscles are relaxed, his tail and ears are held in their natural positions. Your canine friend might wag his tail from side to side or in a circular motion. With the muscles in his face relaxed, his eyes might be closed or slightly opened, and he may be panting with a regular tempo. Because the corners of your dog’s mouth might be turned upwards slightly, it may appear as if he is smiling.


Your Dog is Alert

 When your dog is alert, he will look very intense and seem quite focused. He will likely stand upright with his weight centered on all fours, as if he is waiting for something. Your dog’s ears are up and forward, and his head and neck are erect. He will hold his tail either in its natural position or vertically, possibly even over his back. His tail is rigid and immobile. His gaze is directed toward whatever he‘s detected and although his mouth is typically closed, he might decide to growl or bark. The hair on his shoulders or back may or may not be raised.


 Why Does my Dog Yawn?

 Yawning appears to be contagious, meaning that when we notice someone else yawning, we cannot help but yawn at the same time. Indeed, if people yawn in front of dogs, they may respond with a yawn too. Dogs yawn as a way to release tension and stress, or to show their confusion. They will yawn when they feel slightly threatened, especially when meeting new dogs or animals or being somewhere new.



Why Does My Dog Keep Bowing?

When your dog is facing you with his head and chest lowered toward the ground, splaying out his front legs with his rear end and tail up, it is quite likely that your dog wants to play now. This behavior is known as the “play bow”, but is sometimes mistaken by owners as a sign of aggression, or wanting to attack, but this is a clearly nothing more than an invitation to play.


What Are Hip Swings?

 As we all know, dogs often wiggle their rear ends as a sign of excitement and friendliness. When a dog is swinging his hind quarters around another dog, and possibly knocking them to the ground, this is another sign of play. Or, this may be an indication that your dog wants a scratch. When the dog’s hip is presented to you, go ahead and scratch – this is also an indication of trust in you from your dog.


Why Do Dogs Lick Their Noses?

Dogs lick their noses in order to change the tension or change the uncomfortable situation he is in. Licking his nose diverts your attention when your dog feels highly stressed or under a lot of pleasure. This can also be your dog’s way of dealing with his relationship with other dogs, possibly trying to convey the messages “please calm down” or “please don’t be angry”. In the dog’s mind, licking his own nose can remove anger and indignation from those around him.



Why Do Dogs Roll Over?

 When your dog exposes his underbelly and puts his paws in the air, he is showing submission and respect for authority. When these actions are shown to other dogs, your dog does not wish to fight with them.

However, when your puppy is rolling over in front of you, this can mean the dog is evading something that he dislikes, such as a bath or grooming. This can also be his way of showing his happiness with you and/or indicate he wants you to rub his belly.


Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tail?

Most dogs who wag their tails are very friendly, but you should pay close attention to the exact position of the tail. When your dog has an upright tail, he is confident and likely filled with excitement. When the tail is in a neutral stance, the dog is relaxed, feeling very secure and friendly. When the tail is lowered or tucked between the dog’s legs, your pet may be anxious, afraid and unhappy.


Can Your Dog Move His Ears?

 A dog’s ears can be incredibly expressive, but just like tails, ears can be held in different positions to show different feelings. When a dog’s ears are pricked forward or straight up, he is paying attention to something. This can also indicate your dog is feeling very curious and is willing to do something. When his ears become flattened, this can mean your dog is feeling afraid or threatened. However, when the dog moves his ears to the back but they are not flattened, this can indicate that he is unhappy, uncertain or anxious.


Why is My Dog Pacing?

 Dogs sometimes like to pace around the home or yard. This action can often lead to the misunderstanding that your dog is relaxed and enjoying himself when in fact, his pacing can mean excitement, nervousness or boredom. In this case, owners should decide if there is an obvious lack of exercise or things for the dog to play with.


Why Does My Dog Try to Mount People and Other Dogs?

When you are walking your dog and meeting other dogs along the way, your pet may stare at or try to mount other dogs, even if they are of the same sex. This can be an attempt by your pet to show that he is the dominant dog. It can mean the same thing when your dog attempts to mount other people.


My Dog’s Hackles Are Raised

When a dog is trying to make himself appear larger or more foreboding than usual, he will raise the hackles, or the hair along the neck and backbone. Dogs in this situation are in high alert, ready for whatever may come next – even a dog fight. When the hackles are obviously raised, you should be extremely careful to avoid being bitten, and do the best you can to soothe your pet with your own voice. If a strange dog’s hackles are raised, keep your distance.


Dogs can use facial expressions, ear stance, tail carriage and other overall actions to indicate their intention and feelings toward others. You should observe the situation or context your dog is in to help you understand what he is trying to say. It is impossible by looking at just one aspect of your four legged friend’s body language.

Dogs have other ways to express their emotions aside from using body language, such as using their voices. Pet owners can easily observe the difference between a dog’s voice in daily life and when he is under pressure. Different emotions can be read by noting whether the dog uses low or high, long or short voices. If you have dog enthusiasts for friends, you can share this passage with them to benefit both masters and dogs.


Authored by: DogLoveIt

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