What Does Your Dog’s Body Language Mean?

What does your dog’s body language mean? It could mean the difference between a healthy and sick dog. Dogs are very body-language aware creatures first and foremost. Nearly everything about their inner state to their general state of affairs can be revealed through their various body movements and postures. No part of the body is exempt from transmitting how they feel, which includes the so-called “naughty bits”, as these often emit scents to signal their mood.

Dogs communicate

Some dogs communicate more effectively through the eyes than others. While relaxing and in a most restful state, dogs may turn to their ears in an attempt to send a non-verbal message. Ears are very sensitive organs, and they are easily distracted by even the slightest sound. When alert, or even mildly interested, your dog’s ears will be very busy, but when relaxed, ears will be slouched, as if they have fallen asleep.

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Some dogs that are highly vocal or very expressive, will often look directly into your eyes. This is actually a rather common body movement, especially when your dog is relaxed and in a particularly dreamy state. They are trying to determine where you are in relation to them, and whether or not you are paying attention. When your dog’s eyes look directly at you, this is a calming signal and can be a cue to stop what they are doing and concentrate on them.


A dog that is looking away, however, is probably afraid, anxious, or simply in a reflective state. They are trying to make sure nobody or anything is near them and that they are hidden from view. The eyes should be wide open though, and not left closed. A dog that stares at you without opening their eyes is considered submissive. You can usually tell when they are submissive by lowering your own voice or making a sign with your hand, such as a thumbs up.

When a dog is relaxed and alert, their ears are usually tucked back, and pointed towards the sky, rather than towards you. Their tail also tends to be higher than their head, but not fully extended. When you come over to play, they will greet you with a quick nod of the head, or a quick squeeze of the tail. A dog that isn’t completely relaxed will almost never greet you with a single nod of the head, and will almost never greet you with a squeeze of the tail.

Your dogs may also make what sounds like a yawn or a nasal grumble when you approach. This is a calming signal that they are either tired or hungry. This yawning or hissing could mean that they are looking at something or trying to get attention. If your dog is looking away from you, then they are almost ready to go to sleep.


Your dogs can also make what sounds like a soft whirring noise when they are very excited or happy. This whirring noise is called a shiba inu sound. Your dogs are mainly communicating with you by giving you the signal that they are happy. The shiba inu noise is similar to the noise that you get when you press your finger against a white cloth. Your dogs want you to pay more attention to them, so they can communicate with you more easily.

Dog’s Eyes

  • When your dog is winking, it indicates a very happy, playful dog.
  • If your dog’s eyes are wide open, it means your dog feels ready to play.
  • When a dog breaks eye contact it means a dog is avoiding confrontation and being polite.
  • However, a dog holding eye contact, even staring, is a sure sign that the dog is challenging the object of their attention.
  • If your dog has wide, upturned eyes it’s a signal that the dog is feeling nervous or unsure.
  • Narrowed eyes usually mean your dog is feeling aggressive. Beware of this, especially if it is followed by concentrated staring.

Dog’s Ears

  • When your dog’s ears are forward, it means the dog is paying close attention to something or is curious.
  • When your dog’s ears are flat against its head, it represents fear or aggression.
  • Ears way back but not close to its head may mean that your dog is feeling sad.
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Health Care For Your Pet Dog

Dog’s Postures

  • When your dog is relaxed, it will have its tail down, is standing without tension or lying down, with its eyes and ears pointed towards the center of its attention.
  • A playful dog or a dog that wants to play and have fun will have their tail up in the air, be bending their front legs onto the ground, and have their backside raised.
  • If your dog is excited it may have perked ears, a paw in the air, and slightly bowed back legs.
  • An alert dog will have their ears perked and back legs angled out behind them. It will look like they’re about to take off running.
  • A dog displaying dominance will have their ears up and forward, tails up, and legs stiff.
  • If your dog is exposing their stomach, with their tail close to their belly, and their legs are up in the air it is being submissive. If your dog is doing this and also rolling they’re passively letting you know they’re not enjoying themselves.
  • Anxiety is shown when tails are bent low, heads are bent low to the ground, ears are back, and legs bent to hunch close to the ground.
  • Scared dogs will have tails bent all the way close to their bellies, bowed legs, and may have ears back or possibly flat.
  • Aggression is shown by bowed legs, ears bent back, and tail turned up.

Dog’s Gestures

  • A paw raised and touched to another dog or owner means the dog needs something.
  • Hip wagging means a dog is really deep in play.
  • Ears up and head cocked to the side is a very common uncertainty/curiosity gesture.
  • Head shaking denotes the end of a certain activity. Your dog is pressing his own reset button, so to speak.

Dog’s Face Expression

  • A wide-open mouth with slightly upturned (but not curled) lips denotes a happy dog. It will almost look like a human smile.
  • Bared front teeth mean non-active aggression. It’s most commonly seen when a dog is guarding its bone or favourite toy.
  • A mouth stretched back and slightly open denotes pain.
  • Yawns can relieve stress, signal confusion, or tiredness.
  • Lip licking can mean a submissive dog or that your dog is trying to disperse their hormones to the air if they’ve got a dog crush.
  • Licking people and other dogs is a greeting and long, prolonged licks are a sign of closeness and affection or the desire to comfort.


When you are out walking your dog, it can be useful to give him a treat after you have praised him for a job well done. You can also give him a treat and then place your hand in his mouth while you say “Good boy!”. Your dog’s calming signals are mostly eye contact and barking. You should keep trying different things until you have got your dog’s attention focused on you and not on other things that are going on around him.

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