Dog Body Language 101: How To Understand your Dog

 Dog Body Language 101: How To Understand your Dog

Everyday behaviors in our dogs can be confusing, especially because we might not know what part of their behavior is an actual “problem” and how much of it is normal for them. 

In addition, knowing the signs your dog is giving can help you solve problems faster, easing their discomfort. 

How To Understand Your Dog

The Tail

Tail wagging is a common way for dogs to communicate their emotions. There are two main types of tail wags: the happy wag and the sad/frustrated wag.

If your dog’s entire body moves while wagging the tail, they’re happy and comfortable! This type of wag means they’re safe and secure in their environment. It’s also often indicative of playfulness or excitement. A faster twitch-like wag indicates A higher level of excitement, perhaps in a negative aspect.

You may also find a clue in the wag’s direction. When a dog experiences anything positively, such as engaging with its owner, its tail wag tends to sway right. When dogs encounter adversity, their tails wag to the left.

Also, the position of your dog’s tail can tell you a lot about how they feel. When a dog’s tail is elevated, they are confident and relaxed. If the tail is held down, the dog is submissive or afraid. It could mean they are unsure or frightened if it’s between their legs. They are extremely confident or dominant if your dog’s tail is over its back.

Raised Hackles

Also known as predilection, it is a common reaction in dogs when aroused, stressed, or scared. This involuntary reaction happens when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and triggers the muscles in the skin to contract and pull the hair up. The fur can fluff across the shoulders or down the back and to the tail.

Despite not necessarily being a bad omen, it is a sign that the dog is aroused. The dog could be agitated or under stress, but he also might be ecstatic or utterly absorbed in something.

A Dog’s Body Language

You can tell a dog is feeling something by how tense its muscles are. Muscle clenching is a common sign of an agitated or fearful dog, especially around the shoulders and head.

Mouth Language

The mouth of a calm dog will be soft and relaxed, and it may even grin slightly. Dogs that are under tension will have clenched lips and tight mouths. Although some breeds do this as a smile, a curled lip and exposed teeth might be signals of hostility. Yawning helps the dog to lower its pressure and calm down. Tongue flicking or licking frequently suggests uncertainty or unease.

When a dog yawns, it decreases blood pressure and settles down, but the continuous flicking or licking of the tongue shows doubt or anxiety.


To truly understand your dog and be the best owner, it’s essential to make sure you know what he’s saying with his body language. This passive communique will give you a better idea of whether George is being aggressive, if he’s bored, or if he wants some attention from you.

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