Knowing how to read your dog’s body language

Your dog’s body language can say a lot about his state of mind. Here we show you the signs to look out for and their potential meaning.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have Dr. Doolittle, who had a knack for communicating with animals! For our part, we are reduced to detecting signs of behavior in dogs and decoding their body language, in order to try to understand their state of mind.

This is especially important if the dog’s behavior or body language is not normal. In this article, we present some of the most common signs of canine behavior, which could possibly indicate that something is wrong.

Happy and relaxed

Let’s start with the body language of a happy dog. The most important thing is that the dog looks relaxed and not tense – mouth slightly open, ears in normal position, eyes normally open. And of course, a light flapping of the tail is usually a good sign as well (note, however, that when a dog wags its tail, that doesn’t always mean it’s happy – see below).

But what are the signs that can characterize a sad, nervous or angry dog? Below is a list of the most common signs displayed by dogs and what they typically mean.


Eyes appear larger than usual: a dog’s eyes can look dilated when they are feeling threatened or aggressive.

Strabismus: Dogs who are not feeling well may appear to be squinting.


Ears erect / erect: this is usually a sign that your dog is ready and ready for action. He turns his ears to whatever catches his attention. But beware, it can also be a sign of aggression.

Ears folded back: if his ears are only slightly folded back, he is probably just happy. But if his ears are completely flattened or drooping to the sides, that probably means he’s scared or submitting (this does not apply to animals with droopy ears.

Mouth and teeth

Yawning Dog: That could just mean he’s tired! But when a dog yawns a lot, it can also be a sign of stress.

Dog licking its lips, licking and drooling. Many dogs do this often, but if a dog does it very frequently, it can be a sign of nervousness or stress.

Closed Mouth Dog: This is usually a sign that your dog is ready and ready for action.

Open Teeth, Growling Dog: This is a typical way for a dog to tell you (or another dog or animal) not to approach. A dog that shows its intention to be aggressive will often pucker its lips to bar its teeth while wrinkling the tip of its muzzle.

Dog biting or pinching: This is a clear warning and an incentive to back away which usually means the dog feels threatened. It is also a very common behavior in puppies. Try to teach your puppy not to do this as early as possible.

Dog that bites and does not let go: this indicates a desire to do harm and may be a sign of an attacking dog or of a ferocious dog. Consult your veterinarian or professional dog trainer to ensure the safety of you and your pet.


Tail low / tail between the legs: your dog may be uneasy, nervous or fearful

Tail Up: A tail up usually suggests that the dog is feeling confident or excited.

Dog wagging its tail: it depends. You can usually decipher this behavior from your dog’s general attitude. If he is relaxed or excited, it is a sign of happiness. If he has a defensive posture, a tense face and barks a lot, he may be over-excited or frustrated, and you should be careful when approaching him.

Body posture

Body frozen: This is a common attitude in dogs when assessing a situation to know whether to fight or to flee.

Hunched / tiny dog: this means that the animal feels a sense of fear or that it is submitting. A dog sometimes has this kind of behavior when faced with a more dominant dog.

Well-trained / growing dog: this can be a sign of self-confidence or aggression.

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