Your Guide to Canine Body Language

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Many dog owners are probably rather sad about the fact that their pets can’t talk, but something they should remember is that although they can’t technically say any words, dogs are perfectly able to communicate—they use body language. This means that a dog owner needs to be able to understand what that body language means so they know what their dog is trying to say to them. 

With this in mind, here are some ways to understand your dog’s feelings, emotions, and needs much better through their body language; read on to find out more. 

Wagging tail 

One of the best ways to understand a dog’s body language is to look at their tail, as it will move differently depending on their mood, and give you the perfect signals about what is going on. 

A wagging tail, for example, usually means a dog is happy or excited, although it does depend on how the tail is wagging. A slow, stiffer kind of wag might mean the dog feels uncertain, but a fast wag means that they’re happy. Of course, if their tail is tucked under themselves, they’re probably afraid. 

Ears up or down 

Apart from their tail, a dog’s ears are another great way to tell what they’re thinking or feeling, and it’s wise to look at them if you’re not sure what’s happening. When a dog’s ears are perked up and facing forward, it usually means they’re attentive and alert, which could happen if they’re feeling cautious about a particular situation. 

Flattened ears aren’t a great thing, as they usually mean your dog is afraid or anxious. If you see this, you should remove your dog from whatever situation they’re in, as it’s clearly causing them some upset. If the problem continues, it’s worth seeing your vet about it, and you might be able to use your Perfect Pet insurance for dogs policy to help with the costs. 


Just like humans, a dog’s eyes can tell you a lot about their feelings, and if your dog is looking at you with a relaxed gaze, they’re probably contented, and they trust you. On the other hand, if you spot that your dog’s pupils are dilated, it could mean they’re excited.

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Be careful if your dog stares without blinking; they might not like what they see, and they could start to be aggressive because they’re uncomfortable in some way. With dogs, direct eye contact is a challenge, so be careful, even if you’re playing, as you might accidentally start to make your dog feel uncomfortable. 


Some dogs really look as though they’re smiling, but in reality, it’s just the shape of their mouth and jaw giving that impression. However, a dog’s mouth can actually give you some idea of their mood, so it’s still a good idea to pay attention to it. 

If a dog yawns, for example, it can certainly indicate that they’re tired, but dogs also yawn when they’re uncomfortable in a situation, and if it’s happening a lot, perhaps accompanied by a lot of lip licking, it can mean they’re stressed. However, if a dog shows their teeth without growling, they’re showing submission, letting you know that they know you’re the boss!

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