Canine Body Language

Have you ever wondered what your dog is trying to tell you through their body language? Here are some tips!

Dogs can’t communicate the same way humans can but that doesn’t mean you can't understand what your furry friend wants to tell you - dogs are always trying to chat to us using their body language! So, here are some things to look out for that will help you recognise your dog’s feelings -

  • If your dog is feeling playful, you can expect to see them wagging their tail raised up, lowering the front of their body with bent forepaws, pricked ears and their mouth loosely open with a relaxed tongue. This means that whatever your dog does next is done with a playful behaviour.
  • When your dog is focused on something, they might be standing upright with their ears pricked, their tail moving slightly from side to side and their mouth horizontal and closed but still relaxed.
  • A relaxed dog generally has a relaxed stance. They usually don’t show any obvious tension in their body.
  • If your dog is feeling insecure, you’ll notice some of the following signs - a lowered body with a low and softly wagging tail, drooped ears and potentially a raised paw. In this case, all you need to do is drop an open hand and let them know that everything is fine.
  • When a dog is worried they will have a lowered body but their tail might be tucked. Look out for dilated pupils and panting as well as if their ears are back. If your dog looks worried, let them go to their safe place and be calm and quiet.
  • If a dog rolls onto its back to expose its tummy, it’s not always a call for attention. It often may be a form of appeasement or submission to let you, or another dog, know that they aren’t a threat. When a dog does this, it doesn’t always mean they want their tummy tickled, so use discretion (especially if it’s a dog you don’t already know).
  • Aggressive dogs might be the easiest to spot. Their body and tail will be stiff with lips curled and teeth visible. They might also bark and strain at their leash.
  • A scared dog can quickly become aggressive if treated incorrectly. A scared dog will have tense and curled lips with its ears flat back. Its body will be low to the ground with a still, low tail. The dogs weight will also be back, looking like its ready to run. If you’re dealing with a scared dog, let them realise they aren’t under threat and lead them away!

Hopefully by using these tips, you can understand what your dog is trying to tell you and approach them with care and in response to how they are really feeling.