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How to Read Your Dog's Body Language

Your dog’s body language, or lack thereof, is its unique way of telling you how it’s feeling or its current intentions. Although canines often communicate by barking, whining, or growling, the majority of their communication is done nonverbally. In order to better understand your dog’s specific wants and needs, here are some of the top indicators and what to look out for when trying to understand a dog’s body language.

Tails Have A Story Of Their Own

A dog’s tail can say a lot about how it’s feeling and not all of their tail’s movements mean what we’ve all been told. Here are some of the most common tail behaviors and what they mean:

Wagging from side to side.

Even though many of us were taught that a wagging tail means a happy dog, it actually means that your dog is simply aroused. This form of body language could mean a happy dog, but it could also mean an excited dog or a frustrated dog.

Wagging slowly.

This indicates that your dog is relaxed. If you see that slow, side-to-side sweep of your dog’s tail, it’s a good sign.

Wagging quickly.

A fast tail means an alert dog! The faster the tail, the more in tune your dog is to the situation it’s currently in.

High and tight.

This position indicates that your canine is feeling assertive and ready for what’s going to happen next.

Tucked down low.

This indicates that your dog is feeling fearful and uncomfortable in its current surroundings. If possible, making your dog feel loved and safe when their tail is in this position is best.

How Are They Standing?

Your dog’s posture can also indicate how they’re feeling. Whether they’re showing off their belly or in a playful bow, here’s what your dog’s stance is saying:

Laying on their back.

This position is the ultimate invitation to give your dog’s belly a good rub! When your dog is on its back, it means you have a happy pup.

A playful bow.

When your dog is either stretching or getting ready to play, it’ll be in this position.

Straight stance.

This means that your dog is on high alert and checking its surroundings. Some may say that your dog is “taking it all in” when it’s in this position.

Raised hackles.

If your dog’s hair is standing up on the back of its neck and back, it means extremely aroused. Usually indicating stress or curiosity, this form of body language can also mean your dog is really happy or excited.

Facial Expressions Speak Volumes

Although similar to humans, a dog’s facial features are used in different ways. Consider yawning, in most cases this action is used to indicate tiredness, but it also means something else for dogs. Here’s what you need to know:

Yawning when not tired.

If your dog is well-rested and still yawning, it’s a sure sign that your pup is stressed.

Smiling.

This position usually indicates happiness, but it can also serve as a warning if your pup is really showing its teeth. When a smile becomes a snarl, it can be a warning to anyone or anything around that your dog is showing off its weapons.

Eye contact.

Just like people, pups make eye contact when something has its attention. If the eye contact is strong, the concentration is also strong. If the eye contact is weak, it means your dog isn’t totally focused and can be easily distracted.

Canines Love Stella & Chewy’s

It can be extremely valuable to truly understand your dog’s body language. Not only will this help you get to know your pup better, but it will also ensure that you’re armed to handle their unique behaviors in specific situations. To learn more about all things dogs, check out our variety of dog blogs by visiting Our Blog: For the Pet Obsessed.

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Dog