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What’s My Dog Trying to Tell Me? – A Simple Guide to Dog Body Language

Just like people, dogs communicate information through body language. Understanding what that body language is can help you better know what your dog is feeling or telling the other dogs around him. Here is a quick list of common body language that you should know as a dog owner. Remember not all dogs are the same, and though these are typical signs some dogs may exhibit different behaviors or have different body language. It is important to know your dog.

CONFIDENT

Things to observe:

  • The dog is standing straight up
  • Tail is relaxed
  • Ears are up
  • The dog is not fixated on anything, moving freely
  • The dog looks comfortable in his environment

PLAYFUL

Things to observe:
• Upper body is dipped down
• Tail is wagging or straight up in the air
• Arms are splayed out
• Ear are erect
• Sometimes barks with excitement
• Bouncy movements

FEARFUL OR NERVOUS

Things to observe:
• Lowered stance
• Tail is tucked
• Ears are back
• Head is downward facing
• Mouth is panting
• Sometimes they lick their lips or growl

AGGRESSIVE

Things to observe:
• Rigid or guarded stance
• Tail is up in the air or directly behind
• Ears are back or perked up
• Teeth are showing
• Hackles are up
• Probably growling or barking
• Intense stare

HAPPY OR RELAXED

Things to observe:
• Lying down or standing without being alerted
• Tail is wagging or lying naturally
• Ears are in their normal state
• Open lightly panting or closed
• Generally calm

Understanding your dog’s body language is a very important part of being a dog owner. Dogs are social creatures and being able to recognize how they are reacting to one another and other people or creatures is important not only for your safety but for your dog’s safety as well. Recognizing these different cues are necessary for correctly training and socializing your pup, and keeping everybody out of harms way. Also remember that every dog is different and may exhibit different body language.

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