What’s on my dog’s mind

Dogs often know what we are going to do before we do it. They are very sensitive to our behavior and emotions. But what about them? We all wish we could tell what our dog is thinking. We know that he seems happy when he wags his tail and licks us. What we need to do is understand more about our dog’s thinking by observing his body language. Here are some indicators of what your dogs body actions may mean:

Whole body movements

pawing – appeasing gesture

play bowing – invitation to play and sign of happiness

freezing in place – frightened

licking another dog’s face – invitation to play or a sign of deference

Mouth and lips

panting – playful, excited, or hot

mouth and lips closed – uncertain or appeasing

licking lips – worried or appeasing

pulled back lips – challenge or warning sign


raised – arousal, frightened, challenging another dog

smooth – calm


relaxed tail – calm, at ease

tail straight out and wagging slowly – cautious, on guard

tail down – worry, uncertainty

tail up and wagging fast – excitement

erect tail – alertness

tail between legs – fear


relaxed – calm

erect – alert and attentive

up and forward – challenging or assertive

laid back – worried, scared


direct contact – bold, confident

averted – deference

dilated pupils – fear

casual – contented

Each dog is an individual and may use many body postures that have earned them rewards from you. My dog will bow when she wants a treat, which I guess is a sign of happiness too! Enjoy your special friend and watch that body language!

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