Reading Your Dog’s Emotions

As a responsible pet owner, it’s best to understand your dog’s body language to truly relate to her emotions. By understanding your dog’s emotions, you can better care for your pet’s needs, as well as promote a positive pet relationship for your entire family. Here are some tips to help you get started.

When your dog’s happy he may display signs by:

  • Holding his head high
  • Excitably panting
  • Keeping his eyes open wide
  • Relaxing his ears and tail
  • Wagging his tail
  • Licking family members or other family pets
  • Wiggling his body
  • Sticking his rump in the air

While most owners understand the signs of a happy dog, it’s beneficial to point these cues out to all members of the family, as well as visitors to the home, who may not be as pet savvy as you are. Imagine your atrociously sized Saint Bernard flailing in to greet your guest only to send them backwards to the floor from fright. The more you know about your pet, the more you can educate others.

When your dog’s scared or nervous he may display signs by:

  • Pulling his lips back
  • Excessively licking his lips
  • Lowering his eyes or looking at you sideways so you can see the whites of his eyes
  • Tucking his ears back behind his head
  • Tucking his tail between his legs
  • Hunching his spine upward
  • Rolling over on his back with his belly exposed
  • Huddling in a corner or under the bed
  • Trembling

It’s certainly not healthy to have stress in your life, nor is it healthy for your dog. Try learning to observe stress cues to ensure your pet’s healthy and happy lifestyle.

  • When your dog is angry he may display signs by:
  • Standing tall on the tips of his toes
  • Baring his teeth
  • Staring with wide eyes, or eyes narrowed eyes, for a period of time
  • Pointing his ears forward
  • Stiffening his tail or pointing it straight out
  • Raising his hackles
  • Stiffening or slowing his movements

Sometimes dogs find the need to protect themselves or their families, and other times dogs feel threatened by a person, object or other animal that comes near. In cases like these, understanding specific cues will help you to protect your dog from doing something that’s unnecessary. For instance, dogs have been known to fear bite, chase vehicles or jump fences in reaction to what causes them defensiveness. As a responsible pet owner, it’s vital to respond to your dog’s anger cues to avoid negative occurrences.

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