Dogs feel a whole range of emotions, just like humans do. Joy, fear, pleasure, stress, and anxiety may all be experienced by your pet, and he will express his feelings through body language and vocalizations. As a dog owner, it's important you learn how to read and understand your pet's unique language to ensure he stays happy and you stay safe.
A Handy Guide to Doggy Body Language
Here are some common dog expressions and their meanings:
- Happy: relaxed body muscles, floppy tail, no white showing in the eyes
- Relaxed: lolling tongue, wiggling butt, rapidly-wagging tail, play bow, belly-rub invitations
- Curious: head cocked to one side, front paw lifted up
- Stress: yawning (when not tired), lip-licking, shaking, body freezing
- Defensive/Offensive: leaning forward, tense mouth, growling, air-snapping, physical biting
How to Help Your Dog During Periods of Negative Emotions
If your dog appears to be in a "bad mood", don't try to train him as he will be disinterested and become stressed. If he is anxious or fearful, remove him from the situation that's causing this and distract him with something he enjoys. Reward him to help turn the stressful situation into a positive and relaxed one.
How to Spot the Signs Your Dog Wants to Play
There are various ways your dog will show that he wants to play, from the subtle (bowing his front end and sticking his butt up in the air) to the not-so-subtle (fetching toys and dropping them in your lap!). Watch out too for hilarious "zoomies" and bouncy movements coupled with a goofy open-mouthed grin that looks as though your dog is smiling!
Learning to read and understand what your dog is trying to tell you will mean a more fulfilling relationship for you both. Speak the same language and your dog will literally become your best friend!
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