Updated: Nov 22, 2021
We all have a few specific expressions we make when we’re happy or upset, and your dog is no different. Since your pet can’t communicate with words, body language is the best way to truly read how they’re feeling. This can go a long way in not only knowing how to train them but in building a lasting bond with them as well. Read on to learn the basics of how to read dog body language and develop a deeper understanding of your pet.
Though dogs are more limited than humans when it comes to the faces they can make, their mouths, noses, eyes, and heads all still demonstrate emotion. Tight lips around the muzzle area, for instance, show tension, suggesting that your pup may feel nervous or afraid. Relaxed jowls and soft eyes, on the other hand, mean that they feel content and secure in their environment. So, when you’re training your dog, you want to see that their eyes are focused entirely on you and that they’re physically comfortable enough to take direction.
Ear Turning and Lowering
You’ll also want to pay attention to your dog’s ears when determining their mood. In breeds known for upright pointed ears, this area is often a better indicator of emotion than their faces. When dogs are excited, they’ll perk up their ears and turn them in the direction of the noise source. Agitation or fear, on the other hand, will cause their ears to flatten against the top of their head to show their tension. Dogs will also slightly turn their ears in the direction of whatever has caught even their mild interest. As such, this is also a useful sign that your dog is distracted and has their mind on something else.
Another vital aspect of reading dog body language and better understanding your pet is to examine their entire physical posture. The way your dog distributes their body weight can say a lot about their overall comfort level. If they seem to be sinking back toward their tail, it shows fear and hesitation. Raised and tense shoulders exhibit aggression. Even the fur along your dog’s back can clue you into their mood, as smooth fur demonstrates a calm or neutral emotion and prickly coats mean the dog feels afraid.
Tail Direction and Movement
Make sure you watch your dog’s tail for any additional indicators as well. It might be common knowledge to many of us that a frantically wagging tail means happiness and joy, but there are other, more subtle movements we should note too. For starters, slower, more methodical wagging shows caution or nervousness. Some dogs may even hold their tails completely erect when alert or tuck their tail between their legs when frightened. Observing your pet carefully and determining which positions are natural for them will be the key to reading their passing moods with increased accuracy and clarity.
Knowing how your dog feels at any given time is crucial to making the most of your training. As such, we at Acadia Canine Academy set out to help you learn everything you need to know. Our professional dog training services will provide you with an experienced instructor that’ll work hands-on with you and your pet. We’ll supply the structure and insight to ensure success at improving your dog’s behavior.