A man holds his Husky dog in his arms and smiles.

Dog Body Language 101

Have you ever felt like your dog is trying to tell you something? Whether it’s how they turn their head when you talk, how they respond to your love tap, or their posture in certain settings, dog body language is a great way to learn how to communicate with your loyal companion. 

Let’s dive into dog body language, how to decipher it, and how it can benefit your relationship.

How to Read Dog Body Language

For the most part, dogs who are relaxed and at ease will appear more “floppy” and “waggy,” to put it in the most visually descriptive terms.

If your dog’s ears are in their natural position, their eyes are soft and their face is relaxed; this is usually a sign that they are feeling safe and comfortable.

On the flip side, if your dog is feeling stressed or alarmed, their body language will look different, as will their behavior. Your dog may pace in circles, sniff the ground, yawn, and even avoid your eye contact.

Helpful Dog Body Language Examples

Understanding body language with dogs takes time, but here are a few examples of what your dog may be showing and what he means by it.

Tail Wagging

Tail wagging is the quintessential sign of a friendly, happy dog, and often this is the case. However, tail wagging can also be a display of fear or frustration in a dog.

Determining what your dog is feeling based on his tail is done by the speed and direction of the wag, along with the position of the tail itself. Side-sweeping tail wags typically mean the dog is relaxed, while a twitchy wag can imply the dog is aware of something and is on high alert.

Hackles Raised

When the hair on your dog’s neck and back stands up, it means he is actively interested and engaged in something, or he may be stressed or uncomfortable.

Different Postures

With dogs, different postures mean different things. If your dog is ready to play, he will probably shift into the “play bow” and rest his chest on the floor and his bottom up in the air. He may look ready to pounce, and playtime is imminent.

If your dog is cowering or making himself seem smaller, he is usually showing fear or stress. This may be in situations where there are people or animals present he’s never met before, or if he’s in a place he’s never been before.

Build a Stronger Relationship with Your Dog

As you learn more about your dog and their personality, it’s critical to prioritize his physical health, too. Keep your dog happy and healthy with Get Joy’s high-quality meals and treats made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. Keep his tummy full and his tail wagging!