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How to read your Dog's body language?

Wouldn’t it be nice to understand our dog’s language, to be able to respond to it accordingly? Dogs communicate with us in a way that is more on nonverbal body language.

They make sounds that we might think we got but more often it's not the case. They use various methods to communicate with us but a dog's body language is the communication your dog would use more often to communicate with you about how dogs feel. The most commonly read dog body language is tail wagging. There are a lot of misinterpretations even in the wagging tail of your dogs.

Keep reading to understand what your dog’s body language means and how your dog feels when they try to communicate to you with its body language.

Tail wagging

It is not true that tail wagging is always a happy sign from our dogs. When your day wags its tail, it could be happiness, frustration, or anything. Tail wagging is a dog language shown when their emotions are aroused. You can interpret the dog’s body language when a tail is wagged by the position, speed, and direction of the tail while your dog’s wagging it.

The position of the tail illustrates a lot about your dogs. This is one kind of dog body language that is always shown and can be misinterpreted sometimes. The emotional state of your dog can be understood with its tail position.

The higher tail, they are assertive. The tail pointing down or even tucked between the legs indicate they are stressed or scared. The neutral, basic position explains they are relaxed. But this also depends on the breeds as the neutral tail position could differ. The flag position explains they are confident.

The direction of the tail wag shows the positive and negative states of mind. This dog body language is quite easy to say. When your dog’s tail is wagged more on the right side, it shows they are happy or positive and want to play with you. When your dog’s tail is wagged more on the left side, it indicates they feel negative.

Here’s the helicopter tail wag that spins like a circle, which indicates they are happy and you can notice this body language more often when your dog wants to greet their beloved one.

The speed of a tail wag by your dog is also an easy indicator of a relaxed and stressed signal.

If your dog’s wag the tail faster, they are aroused extremely. A slow side to side wag where their whole body moves side to side – they are relaxed and calm. A very fast tail wag shows that your dog is more aroused and more in a negative way.

Raised Hackles

Raised hackles or kind of like goosebumps that occur in humans, in dogs they get this raised hackle when they feel either positive or negative. In this case the hair gets fluffed up or standing up across the shoulders or at the back down to the tail. It is called piloerection technically. This dog body language could be either negative or positive. It could be when they are extremely interested in something or stressed or sad.

As it is like a goosebumps in people it is an involuntary body language. They don’t control it. We don’t want them to get negative right? When the surroundings are neat and clean, why wouldn’t one have a positive mind? Read our blog to know more about how to keep your pets space clean


The distribution of your dog’s weight explains the mood and what they would probably intend to do. If the dog is cowering towards the ground, they are probably sad or scared. Sometimes they turn upside down showing their belly more often interpreted as they want a belly rub. It could also be that the stress and fear make them want to ask for a belly rub. It's also like they surrender, they are not bad to anyone. In this case they might urinate a little by appeasement.

If they are assertive or eager onto something they show themselves larger. The posture is faced more forward when they are in this mood. Also, it could be that they want to be aggressive where their tail also would be twitching held up high.

A common easily read dog body language is the chest placed on the ground and more like a rump posing upward. This indicates they are in the mood to play.

The tough one to understand is when they raise their paw. This indicates they are not sure about the situation and they might be kind of not secure with the circumstance.

Facial expression

We might think our facial expression would be similar with dogs also. But it is different in this case. Humans yawn when we are tired but in the dog's case it is different. Dogs yawn when they are stressed. A study has shown that dogs usually yawn when they want to calm themselves and others and mostly their owners. If you feel like your dog’s body language shows signs of stress, you can yawn at your dog to calm them down. Sometimes they might yawn at you back. Just like yawning is contagious among humans it's also the same with them. So, they catch it too.

Lip licking is another dog body language expressing anxiety. We might think it is for a delicious meal or they want to lick our face. No, it is a sign that they feel discomfort in a situation. They are anxious about something that they do the lip licking very quickly we might not even notice.

Smile is the sweetest and nice body language of dogs that are more often misinterpreted. They show their bare teeth and lips are of a c – shape. It is misinterpreted that they are aggressive and that they are getting ready to attack someone. But your dog is smiling. This is also called a submissive grin. It is an expression found in happy dogs.

Eye expressions

The soft eyes and hard eyes. Soft eyes are when their lids a relaxed and normal. If they show a soft eye, they are calm and relaxed. Hard eyes are when they seem to go cold. It is when they have a negative state of mind. They could get aggressive when they have a hard eye. You will know when you look at your dog’s eye when they have a hard eye.

Making eye contact is common when humans are calm, happy and relaxed. In your dog’s body language avoiding eye contact is when they are stressed. They look away from you making you think they are avoiding you but they tend to do it when they are sad or stressed. Your dog is expressing discomfort. Humans eye contact and dogs body language of eye contact could be different but organic is always the same for you and your dogs.

White eyes are another indicator of stress and anxiety. It is also known as the whale eye. When your dog is uncomfortable, anxious of a situation or the fear of stealing their toy or bone shows the whites of eyes. You could also see them when you pat them on their head showing the discomfort.

In conclusion dogs body language cannot be read individually. They are meant to be read together to understand what your dogs are trying to say and this says you can also talk to them and play with them. Dogs are the sweetest friendly creatures and it would be nice to communicate with them. The dog's body language is to be read collectively to understand the signs and to act accordingly.

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