Your Dog And His Body Language: What It All Means

If you have a dog you know how important it is to understand their body language. You need to know when they are happy, sad, or scared, after all! Here are a few ways you can tell what your dog is feeling based on what his eyes and mouth look like.

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Even though dogs’ faces and heads come in many shapes and sizes, your dog’s basic facial expressions can tell you a great deal about how he’s feeling.

The Eyes

Your dog can, within limits, vary the shape and size of his eyes or the direction and intensity of his gaze. When your dog is relaxed and happy, his eyes will be their normal shape.

Eyes that appear larger than normal usually indicate that a dog is feeling threatened in some way. He may be stressed by something or he may be frightened.

An aggressive dog is also likely to have eyes that look larger than normal. If your dog’s eyes seem smaller than they usually are, this can also mean he’s feeling frightened or stressed.

Dogs who are in pain or not feeling well often look as though they’re squinting their eyes. Dogs who submissively grin may also squint their eyes.

A dog who looks at you with a relaxed facial expression is being friendly and hoping that you’ll notice him.

A dog who looks directly at you, actually staring at you with a tense facial expression, is another matter indeed.

A direct stare is much more likely to be a threat, and if you’re in close proximity to such a dog, it’s wise to slowly look away. Looking away is what dogs do when they don’t want to appear threatening.

A dog who averts his gaze when you look at him is signalling that he’s submissive. It can also indicate that he’s worried about interacting with you.

Maybe he’s been scared of people in the past, and so he isn’t very confident about dealing with people now.

Just like with humans, dogs have very expressive eyes. You can learn a lot about your dog from his eyes.

The Mouth

The way your dog interacts with you is also telling. If you want to know how your dog is feeling, watch his mouth!

When your dog is relaxed and happy, he’s likely to have his mouth closed or slightly opened.

If his mouth is open, he may be panting—this is how dogs cool their bodies. You might see his teeth because his mouth is slightly opened.

A dog who’s frightened or feeling submissive probably has his mouth closed. His lips might be pulled back slightly at the corners.

He might flick his tongue in and out, or he might lick if he’s interacting with a person or another animal.

When he’s feeling uptight, he might yawn in an exaggerated fashion.

Some dogs show a “submissive grin” when they’re feeling extremely submissive. They pull their lips up vertically and display their front teeth (canines and incisors).

This signal is almost always accompanied by an overall submissive body posture, such as a lowered head, yelping or whining, and squinty eyes. Only some dogs “grin” this way.

A dog who’s signalling his intention to act aggressively will often retract his lips to expose his teeth.

He may pull his lips up vertically to display his front teeth while also wrinkling the top of his muzzle.

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What have you learned about your four-legged friend by watching your dog’s body language?

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