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How To Understand Dog Body Language? [Learn How Your Dog Talks To You]

Updated by Sheryl on Dec 21, 2021

What your canine's body language means is very important to build a strong bond with your pet. Most dog lovers have a misconception about the dog's body cues. For example, your pup can mind if it is complaining about another dog and you think it is excited.

In this post, you'll discover how to guess the meanings of non-verbal communication actions of your pet. In addition, you'll learn how to read your dog's expressions and emotions such as curiosity, aggression, sorrow and so on.

dog body language

How To Read Your Dog's Body Language?

Typically, dogs communicate through barking, whining, and growling. Often, they use non-verbal body language to communicate or express something. Here are some of the common dog emotions, read on to know how are they expressed through dog's body language.

A contented and happy dog adopts a relaxed body posture. Its ears will be up, and its tail will be down in a relaxed position. Its eyes will have a soft expression. In response to petting, a happy dog leans into you. It also rolls over to expose its belly.


A playful dog invites you or others for play by a high wagging tail. Moreover, it can exhibit loud, excited growls and do mouthing without hurting others. In addition, they lean forward with the back in the air to express playfulness.

happy dog

Dogs can experience anxiety and depression as a result of sorrow. The facial muscles of sad dogs will scrunch up, and they have sad eye expressions. But, on the other hand, their wrinkled skin looks so cute as a human baby makes a sad face when you don't listen to him.

Though they can't cry with tears, they express their painful emotions by yelping, whining, and howling express. In addition, some pet canines stop eating and drinking when they are sad. Moreover, they sleep more than usual.

An alert dog's tail usually appears horizontal and wags side by side. Plus, its eyes are wide open, and ears move forward if trying to catch a sound. Depending on the situation, some dogs also bark or growl to show alertness.

alert dog

If your dog is curious about something new, it will start sniffing and analyzing the intensity of the smell. Then, by holding its ears and tail upright, it stares at the thing about which it is curious.

curious dog

If any situation triggers your dog's emotions, it will show aggression. For example, it will exhibit high tail wagging and stiff body expressions. It may also growl with raised hackles to express aggression.

An angry dog usually opens its mouth wide and bare its teeth. It will try to make it as big as possible in preparation to face a threat. In addition, it will put its weight on the front two feet and adopt a stiff body position to show readiness for an attack.

angry dog

When meeting new people or visiting new places, your furry friend may feel vulnerable and insecure. So, it will roll on its back with its paws in the air to express the insecure feelings. You might misinterpret this posture to urge a belly rub, but it indicates vulnerable feelings.

insecure dog

A fearful dog rolls over its back and exposes its belly, demanding a belly rub. Some anxious and fearful dogs start scratching and self-licking for no reason.

Scared dogs also experience haking, drooling, panting, lip-licking, and trembling. They may also urinate or attempt to hide behind you to overcome the fear. In addition, it may try to hide behind you to avoid an uncertain situation. Some dogs jump into the owner's lap, asking for comfort.

threatened dog

According to AKC, dogs yawn when they are stressed. If a dog yawns in front of its other fellows, they'll experience the same since yawning is contagious—your canine yawns to soothe itself in a stressed situation. For example, a vet visit can stress your pet.

Stressed, fearful, and scared dogs usually behave like they are avoiding something. For example, they avoid direct eye contact with you and turn their head away from you. Moreover, they keep sniffing the ground in an attempt to self-soothe themselves.  The sweaty footprints with the raised paws and flattened ears are the signs that your dog is anxious.

stressed dog

Tips To Comfort Your Stressed Dogs

By understanding the actual reason behind the fear and stress of your dog, your next step will be to comfy your faithful pet canine. Follow these tips to ensure a deeper bond of trust and love with your pet.

Avoid giving extra attention to other pets in front of your dog.
If your pet is scared of a sound, remove it at that moment. And then, slowly and gradually make it habitual to that sound by using positive reinforcement.
If you have difficulty understanding your dog's body language, contact a vet trainer and learn what different cues mean.
Don't scold a stressed dog.
Socialize your dogs and let them out daily for a walk or exercise.
Gently fondle him, you can use a pet brush to groom him.
Speak softly, and give a reward once your pet is calm down.

Dogs are your faithful companions. Aren't they? They are like your house members. By understanding what canine body language means, you can improve your communication with your buddy. When he feels insecure or stressed, do care about him, give him a big hug or fondle him a lot. Try to sort out the triggering situations and build a strong emotional bond with your pet.

Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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