How to Read Your Dog's Body Language
Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. They can use sounds and some signals, but the majority of their communication is done through their body language, including facial expressions and body postures.
Understanding what your dog is trying to convey to you is important because it can give you a lot of useful information. Reading your dog’s emotions can help you recognize whether they are nervous, happy, or scared in a specific situation. While interpreting your dog’s body language is not an exact science, you can use the tips below as a guideline to understand how your dog might be feeling.
If your dog is feeling happy: They will have a relaxed body posture, with their tail either wagging or down and relaxed. Their ears will be up, but not overly forward, and their mouth open with their tongue out. Their head should be held high, and their facial muscles will look loose.
If your dog is feeling scared: They will have a crouched stance, with their hair raised along the neck and the back. Their ears will be back, and their lip could be curled a little, with a wrinkled nose. Their tail may be tucked between their legs, and their pupils will be dilated.
If your dog is feeling aggressive: They will have an upright stiff tail, with raised fur along the neck and back. Their ears will be forward, with a full curled lip. Their legs will be stiff, and their facial muscles will be tense, with their mouth open. They may even growl in warning.
If your dog is feeling anxious: They will have their body lowered and their ears back. Their tail will be down between the legs, but their tail may also wag slightly to show they aren’t trying to threaten anyone. They will avoid eye contact and lick the person they are trying to appease.
If your dog is feeling playful: They may be crouched down on his two front paws, but not for very long, and the tail will be up and wagging. Their mouth will normally be open, ears up and pupils dilated. If your dog is trying to play with another dog, notice these signals compared with aggressive ones to decipher any differences. There may be some barking, and your dog may move closer and then away from who or what he is trying to play with.
Always remember that these are basic body language guidelines. You must use caution in all situations, as signals may change or be interpreted incorrectly. However, with the help of this guide, you can begin to interpret and understand your dog’s feelings and behavior.