Understanding Your Dog's Body Language

Posted by Barking Bullies on

If you have a dog, it is important that you understand the body language of your dog. This will make you know of what your dog is saying to you. Regular interaction with your dog is very important to keep it happy and prevent aggressive behavior. Remember that dogs depend on body language to express themselves.

It is a bit strange to understand the body of your dog, but for a trainer or dog owner, it is very important. Dogs have for centuries communicated through body language. Being able to read what your dog wants to say is helpful especially if you are training it.

Dogs can provide us with a wide range of characters and signals for them to communicate with us even if they cannot converse with us through language. Dogs learn body language as a puppy or young age, and can send a message to another dog.

Dogs use different tools to convey their messages. You can see the dog’s signals from the ears, eyes, teeth, tail and stance. Like with a relaxed and happy dog, it will have his ears straight with a wiggling tail. There are numbers of signals that dog owners must be able to identify to know how the dogs are feeling. Dogs, like many other animals, show their intentions and emotions to others with their body language. It does not have any filter and they have no intentions to manipulate. So understanding a dog can be read by how the dog perceives itself.


Dog’s teeth are one the strongest signal and weapon in nature by displaying the amount of information the dog wants to give. First warnings displayed are a smaller number of teeth, but increases if the message is not received.  The lips will be turned back to reveal the complete set of teeth and gum to show aggression with a glaring eye, that most people will understand and fear. Even though teeth are a sign of strength and warning, it can also be used to show happiness.

Dog uses different body parts to strengthen the ears, eyelids, and teeth. When using the teeth as a signal, the underline comes from its jaw. When further forward, the more aggressive it will become, and defensive when pulled back.


When ears are stretched forward, it usually means the dog shows interest and care, and when at a relaxed state, the ears are pricked slightly turn sideways. When in fear or submissions, the ears are folded back. Emotions can be express with the ears, as the wolf uses its ears in the wild to express their feelings to the rest of the pack.


Looking into your dog’s eye can show you a wide variety of emotions. From trust and happiness to fear and pain, the eyes can tell you a lot about how it is feeling. Dogs do not lie. It is difficult to describe something as complex as the feeling in the eyes. However, large spherical eyes usually express fear or nervousness; a fixed stare is usually a challenge or show of confidence; soft eyes show a state of relaxation or joy.


A dog’s tail is the decisive method of expressing its body language, which is unique in its way. It can show how a dog is feeling with its character and temperament. Tails tucking beneath its body is a sign that the dog is scared. When a dog is relaxed or happy, it hangs in a downward direction. But when the dog’s tail is held in a upward position, it can show dominance or awareness, while a straight tail can be defensive.

Dogs possess a peculiar kind of body language of their own. You need to understand this vocabulary in order to have a successful communication with your dog. Here are some of the most common Canine body language messages:

1. Tail and Ears Down: Whenever your dog wants to exhibit submissiveness, he will sit down with both his ears down and tail tucked between his legs. Here, he acknowledges you as his master and surrenders. Your dog will also sit in this position if he has done something naughty or done something that you don’t approve of. He wants to curb your anger and hence sit in this position. Another situation where your dog sits with his tail and ears down is when he feels down, gets sick or injured.

2. Tail and Ears Up: Whenever your dog approaches a new visitor, with his tail and ears up, he is excited and happy to meet this person. The body language is a way to express his happiness and gratitude. This is a playful behavior and you don’t need to worry about the safety of your visitor in this case.

3. Play Bow: This is a body language your dog exhibits whenever he wants to play with you or his fellow dogs. He will lay his front legs flat on the ground and stick his back end in the air. This body language is followed by a happy bark. He will also jump towards his side. In short, this body language of a dog is to ask someone to play with him.

4. Whining: Whenever your dog gets frustrated or angry it will whine. This behavior is common whenever your dog is tied to a leash for a long time or not able to do what he wants.

5. Growling: This is a warning to you. Here the dog becomes aggressive and warns you. This is common when someone tries to invade his place or privacy. It is natural for your dogs to growl at strangers. However, you need to know that dogs who growl at their owners have some problem. You should seek a professional help immediately. Growling is a sign that the dog is going to bite soon. Hence, this behavior should be taken seriously.

6. Barking: This is one of the most common body languages for dogs. This can mean different things depending on the circumstance. Dogs may bark to greet their owners, warn someone, or indicating a stranger’s entry to your home.


Recognizing your dog’s signals can greatly improve your relationship with it. Understanding its signals is meeting its needs. This facilitates easy training while ignoring what you’re it wants to say through its physical expressions also retards its learning progress. Whatever type of training you are implementing on your dog at present, it is always good to be able to understand some dog body language.

Your own body language is also important in this process. If you act tentative or indecisive, it can interpret this as a signal for them to take control. This can lead to dominance conflicts between you and your dog, and relationship problems will begin to surface.

Being able to decipher your dog’s body expressions plays a big part in your ability to understand it in a deeper sense. It is an irony that only a few dog owners actually know about this. Make an effort to understand your dog’s body language, and you will be amazed at new things that you will discover about your pet.


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