♟️ Behavior Training

Canine Body Language: What Your Dog Is Trying To Tell You?

March 31, 2021

Key Takeaways

Dogs love to send their owners and other pups a message through canine body language. But do you understand what your dog is trying to tell you?

Non-verbal language has never been easy to understand. You need to train and focus on the body movements of your pet to understand its behavior. Taking videos of your dog while doing hand signals is one way to study your canine's reaction. Another way is by focusing on your furry pal's face and body to understand what's in its head.

How Can You Understand Canine Body Language?

You'll get surprised to know that there are a lot of movements a dog can make in a second. If you want to know the canine body language, try focusing on a dog's body's essential aspects. It includes the eyes, mouth, ears, breathing tail, and body posture.

Canine Body Language #1 - Eyes

As humans, we got used to staring at other people's eyes when greeting or talking. But in the canine world, looking directly into a stranger dog's eyes is a huge mistake. It means threat or being rude to their wolf ancestors. So, some dog breeds still carry this attitude.

When training your dog or meeting other breeds for the first time, pay attention to the white part of their eye or sclera. Then, assess the intensity of the dog's gaze. A tensed pup usually has rounder eyes than usual.

Some may also show many white eyes, or what experts call the "Whale Eye." Meanwhile, dilated pupils can be a sign of fear. The dog's eyes look "glassy," which shows anxiety and stress. A relaxed dog often blinks with almond-shaped eyes.

Canine Body Language #2 - Mouth

Dogs may not talk, but their mouth says a lot about their emotions. The most important part to focus on is the corners of the mouth. A relaxed dog shows no facial or mouth tension. The corner of its mouth is often in a slightly upward position.

A tensed or fearful canine keeps a closed mouth and sometimes pulls its lips back at the corners of the mouth. If you see that its mouth is vertically and displaying the front teeth, the dog means harm. Its muzzle wrinkles and forms a C-shape at the corner of its mouth.

Canines also smile. You'll know that the dog is smiling if it does the "submissive grin" accompanied by wagging tails, flattened ears, and soft body posture.

Canine Body Language #3 - Breathing

A dog that breathes rapidly shows a lot of things. It could be because of stress, fear, or anger. Sometimes, the weather is just scorching that it needs to pant to regulate the body temperature.

Relaxed pups have slow or less tense breathing. But be mindful of frequent yawning and lip licking accompanied by a tight mouth and a whining sound. It can be a sign of stress.

Canine Body Language #4 - Ears

Different dog breeds have a wide variety of ear types. It is easy to see the movements on those dogs with erect ears. But you can also interpret the ear movement of those floppy-eared dogs. The rule in reading different emotions through a dog's ears is simple.

Look at the direction of the base of the ear. The dog feels aroused if its ears move forward, pointing to the subject of interest. For a floppy-eared dog, the forehead usually wrinkles when its ears move forward. When the ears shift back or out to the sides, the pup usually feels relaxed.

Canine Body Language #5 - Tail

The position of the tail and its speed when wagging are the two things you need to remember. The tail of a relaxed pup is in a neutral position. It could extend from the spine or underneath it.

Excited or aroused dogs usually have tails that rise over the spine level. It also moves fast in a side-to-side or circular motion. You'll know you're looking at a fearful or triggered canine if its tail is in between the rear legs while wagging stiffly.

Canine Body Language #6 - Body Posture

A playful dog who wants to bond with its owner usually has a loose and wiggly body movement. You can also notice lots of active movements and brief pauses while playing. Meanwhile, some canines that are not into playing usually have stiff and slow movements.

It is like humans who are not in the mood to do anything on certain days. There will come a day when dogs have no interest in social interaction. So, just give your pup some space and privacy it needs for the day.
A fearful pup usually leans back, trembles, crouches, or lower and moves back its body. In extreme cases, some breeds would freeze or frantically try to escape. A canine with aggressive body language is what you need to avoid.

It stands tall with the head raised above the shoulder. The body weight is at the center of its body as its feed leans forward like the dog is ready to take offense.


Know that there are some actions that humans make that have different meanings in the canine world. Canine body language is your dog's way to send a message. It may take time to learn and understand its every move, but it is essential for honing a well-behaved dog.


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