Canine Body Language

By Maxine Whittaker

Canine Body Language

We all love our dogs. We love their cute faces, their silly antics, their cheekiness, and we even love them when they cover our furniture with mud! But do we understand them? Do you know how to tell if your dog is happy or feeling anxious? Is your dog a sociable dog who is happy to play with other dogs? Or is he nervous of other dogs approaching him when he’s just trying to have a quiet walk and a sniff around? Our dogs tell us so much through body language, but are we listening?

When you are around your dog it is important to watch and learn his own particular body language, so you will learn to understand the small changes and signals that show you how he is feeling, and help him through any situations he might find stressful.

The best place to start is in his own home where he is comfortable and relaxed. Take note of how he usually carries his tail, what position his ears are usually in, what his body looks like when he is calm and happy (his neutral position) and watch how that changes if you are getting ready to go for a walk or if there is a knock at the door or a sudden noise. The more you observe, the more you will notice.

So what does a happy dog look like? If you watch your dog when he greets his best friend in the park, his ears will be pricked towards his friend, there will be no tension in his muscles, his tail will be held a little higher and wagging (quite often the whole back end of the dog will wag!), his eyes will be soft, and his jaw will be relaxed and open. His whole appearance will be one of joy and fun, and the friends will greet each other with enthusiasm and usually start a game of chase with each other.

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