What A Dog’s Body Language Means

Dog Behavior

January 08, 2018

What A Dog’s Body Language Means

Dogs, just like humans, have feelings. They surge with excitement, cower in fear, and give you a puzzled look when worried.

Dogs emotions are ever changing – especially in new environments and situations. Knowing your dog’s body language will allow you to help your dog adjust throughout changing situations.

I’ve found this out first hand, no dog is the same as the next. If you are a multi-dog family, you can probably relate. What scares my one dog nearly to death, doesn’t even phase the other. They have different temperaments, different needs, and different ways in which they cope with situations.

What I’ve learned is that some signs in my dogs are obvious, while others are subtle. Read on to learn common sings in the body language of a happy, worried, and angry/unhappy dog.

A Happy Dog

golden retriever running with tongue out

A dog who is happy will have a relaxed or even excited appearance.

The body language of a happy dog:

  • Relaxed posture
  • Smooth hair (not raised up)
  • Open mouth with tongue out
  • Ears in a natural position
  • Wagging tail
  • Inviting play (bottom raised and tail wagging)
  • Barking excitedly
  • Body weight distributed evenly
  • Interested look on their face

A Worried Dog

german shepard laying on ground looking up

A dog who is worried will display certain signs giving you warning that they are uncomfortable. A worried dog may not want you to approach them.

The body language of a worried dog:

  • Yawning excessively
  • Tail tucked under
  • A low, bowing, head position
  • Ears pinned back
  • Avoiding Eye Contact
  • Turning head from one side to the other
  • Licking their lips often
  • Raising a front paw

An Angry or Unhappy Dog

growling brown dog

An angry dog can be dangerous. They are feeling a lot of emotions and can be unpredictable. It is best to not approach.

The body language of an angry or unhappy dog:

  • Stiffened body posture
  • Weight forward
  • Making pointed eye contact
  • Ears up
  • Ears flat
  • Hair raised
  • Pupils dark and enlarged
  • Laying in a cowered position
  • Teeth showing
  • Tail down between legs
  • Standing with body down and weight towards the back
  • Head tilted upwards
  • Mouth tight
  • Lips drawn back
  • Snarling

Whether you have a dog of your own or find yourself encountering them often in your life – it is helpful to understand dog body language and the signs they give you.