He’s man’s best friend. He stands faithfully by our side. Never doubts us. Never questions us. He’s dog – we love him and know him well. At least, we think we do. But how well do we really know our dogs? Does a wagging tail always indicate happiness? Does panting always mean a dog is hot?

How well can you decipher your dog’s body language and his attempts to communicate with you?

Here are a few common ways dogs communicate how they’re feeling:

  • Calm and neutral
    Relaxed body posture; no tension
    Relaxed tail, possibly wagging
    Possibly panting happily
    A calm, neutral dog is typically ready for you to greet and pet him.
  • Alert
    Leaning forward
    Ears are forward
    Mouth might be closed
    An alert dog could be curious or interested in what’s going on around him.
  • Dominant
    Standing up tall and leaning forward
    Tail held high
    A dominant dog is showing another dog that he’s in charge.
  • Aggressive
    Stiff posture
    Tail moves back and forth, like a flag
    Might show teeth and/or growl
    Don’t run away from an aggressive dog. Stand tall and still and look away.
  • Anxious or Nervous
    Ears are back
    Tail is low, but the end might be wagging slightly
    Posture is leaned back or turned to the side
    Might be panting
    A dog showing signs of anxiety is nervous about his surroundings and you should avoid petting him if you don’t know him.
  • Scared
    Flattened ears
    Tucked tail
    Crouching lower to the ground
    A scared dog should not be approached, because he might bite if he feels the need to defend himself.

We know that each animal communicates a little differently from the next, so we encourage you to pay attention to your dog this week and see if you can figure out what he might be trying to tell you! And if you have any questions or concerns about your pets behavior, we look forward to helping you understand your pet a little better at your next appointment.

Have questions?