Dog Body Language

  • Dogs use their entire body, from ears to tail, to communicate with other dogs and with people too! They tell us when they’re happy and relaxed, but also when they feel nervous or unhappy.
  • You probably think that your dog is very expressive and that the two of you understand each other very well. That’s absolutely true… most of the time!
  • But in some cases, dog body language can be a bit tricky to decipher.  Also sometimes, we may interpret what our dog is saying the wrong way. Understanding dog body language requires some practice.

Become an expert in deciphering your dog's body language

It’s important to recognize signs of anxiety in dogs. You might wonder: how do I know if my dog is anxious?

Read our tips to become an expert!

1 Happy

Your dog means “I’m all yours and pleased to interact with you”.

2 Playful

Your dog means “It’s playtime! Please come and interact with me… I’m waiting for you!”

This invitation to play can also be accompanied by excited barking, and occasionally a nip for dogs who haven’t been well trained around people.

3 Suspicious

Your dog means: “You frown when you do not completely understand? I can do that too! Give me some time to assess the situation.“

4 Conflicted

No, your dog is not tired! This means: “I’m uncomfortable, trying to cope with the uncertainty of the situation. Please send me clear messages so I know what is happening!”

This can happen when dogs are not sure what will happen next (are you going out alone? are you taking the dog out?) so the yawning is a way to calm down.

5 Stressed

Licking lips is not only for hungry! This means: “I’m struggling, as the uncertainty of the situation makes me uncomfortable. Please send me clear signals that all is Ok to clarify this and I will relax!”

6 Anxious pacing

Your dog means: “I don’t understand what is happening. I feel something is wrong so I can’t relax”.

7 hypervigilant

Your dog means: “I feel something strange is happening and I’m wondering what it is. I’m not relaxed at all, I need to determine if there is any threat or if any action should be taken. Give me some time to work things out, and please do not touch me as it may make me startle and react defensively”.

8 avoidance

Pay attention, your dog means: “I feel anxious and would like to get away from here. Please don't force me to stay in this situation, otherwise I may bite because I am distressed”.

9 Disengagement

Your dog is warning you: “I know you’re there, but I’m asking you not to approach me. Please do not insist, I’m not pleased to be here at the moment”.

10 Scared

Your dog is scared, and needs your help!

“Oh no….. If only I could disappear…. Please do not try to touch me or comfort me, I’m too afraid to welcome any interaction at the moment. Your attitude towards this scary situation will reassure and comfort me".

11 Defensive fear

Clear warning signs: “Sudden movements or noises can make me bark or retreat under a table or sofa, to try to feel safe. But if you insist on being with me and approach, I may become aggressive (through fear) and bite.

Stay away please. Do not impose yourself on me, even if you mean well!”

12 Assertive agressive

Very easy to decode here: « Keep away from me or I may bite you. I am warning you! »

So be careful, and do NOT approach or make sudden movements around a dog in such a state.


Find the right product