Imagine if you could understand what your dog was thinking just by watching them.
Reading a dog’s body language is important because it provides important cues about their emotions, intentions, and overall state of mind.
It helps us to communicate effectively with our four-legged friends, avoid misunderstandings and build a stronger bond with them. And the best part? It’s like reading a secret dog language that only you and your best friend know! How cool is that?!
By being able to read a dog’s body language, we can tell if they’re feeling happy, playful, worried, or even scared. This information is crucial in making sure that we, as well as other dogs and humans around us, stay safe and have a positive, fun time.
Reading a dog’s body language is like being a detective in a doggy mystery.
Here are some things to look for when you observe your pup and see if you can figure out what your furry friend is trying to tell you.
- Eyes: Making eye contact is a big deal for dogs. If they’re making eye contact, they may be trying to read you to see what you want or are waiting for their next treat! If your dog is avoiding eye contact or looking away, they may be feeling unsure or fearful. Remember that staring or prolonged eye contact can be considered rude or intimidating in doggy language, so a glance is more friendly and comfortable.
- Tail: When their tail wags, the speed and direction of the wag can mean different things. A slow wag from side to side is typical for a happy and content pup. A fast wag with a stiff tail might be because of excitement or arousal. And if the tail is tucked between the legs, that usually means your pup is scared or anxious.
- Ears: Depending on the breed of dog, watching their ears can really show you what they are thinking. If your dog’s ears are perked up, they’re probably alert and curious. Soft and floppy ears can indicate a relaxed state. If their ears are laid back against their head, they may be feeling threatened, scared, or uncertain.
- Mouth: A dog’s mouth can tell you a lot about their mood too. If their mouth is open and smiling and their tongue is lolling out, they’re feeling happy and having fun. While a closed mouth with lips pulled back can mean that they may be feeling anxious or tense. Panting can be because they are hot, but it can also mean that they are anxious.
- Yawning: A dog that suddenly yawns when you’re petting them or in a strange situation might actually be trying to tell you they’re feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed. It’s their way of saying, “Whoa, slow down there, human!”
- Licking Lips: Licking their lips is common when they’re feeling nervous or uncertain. Or if you have yummy snacks, it could mean that they are waiting for their next treat!
- Bowing: If a dog bows down, with their front legs stretched out and their butt up in the air, they’re asking you to play with them.
- Body posture: The way your dog holds their body can give you clues to their emotional state. If their body is curved and wiggly, they are feeling relaxed and playful. If they are leaning forward and in a rigid stance, they are probably feeling anxious or threatened by whatever they are looking at. It can also be the signal that they are focused and getting ready to chase something.
- Growling: A growl is a dog’s way of saying “back off.” If a dog growls, it means that they are uncomfortable and need you to give them space. Never punish a dog for growling.
So the next time you’re hanging out with your pup, or any dog, pay close attention to their body language and see if you can tell what they are thinking. It’s like learning a new secret language with your best furry friend!
Chief Dog Trainer
*Note from Local Pulse Editor: Sheri Hamilton is a part of our Community Voices series. Community Voices is a group of Pensacola dwellers that are making a difference in our city by sharing best practices, experiences, their perspective on impactful subjects, and contributing expertise that leads to movement forward for a stronger community.