How often does your dog look at you and you find yourself wondering “what are you thinking?” You probably can tell a lot about your pet’s mood based on how they are acting, but are all pets the same! No! and Yes! Each dog is unique, but all dogs have a few general traits in common that can help you understand them better.
Before we go on, if you have a concern about your dog’s behavior, be sure to ask us at your pet’s next appointment. In the meantime, here are a few common ways dogs communicate how they’re feeling:
Calm and neutral
Relaxed body posture; no tension
Relaxed tail, possibly wagging
Possibly panting happily
A calm, neutral dog is typically ready for you to greet and pet him.
Ears are forward
Mouth might be closed
An alert dog could be curious or interested in what’s going on around him.
Standing up tall and leaning forward
Tail held high
A dominant dog is showing another dog that he’s in charge.
Tail moves back and forth, like a flag
Might show teeth and/or growl
Don’t run away from an aggressive dog. Stand tall and still and look away.
Anxious or Nervous
Ears are back
Tail is low, but the end might be wagging slightly
Posture is leaned back or turned to the side
Might be panting
A dog showing signs of anxiety is nervous about his surroundings and you should avoid petting him if you don’t know him.
Crouching lower to the ground
A scared dog should not be approached, because he might bite if he feels the need to defend himself.
Laying on his back
Paws and tail tucked in
This position is most common when two dogs interact. One dog is telling the other he “gives up.” Abused dogs will sometimes display this behavior toward humans.
Might “bow down” with tail in the air and wagging and front legs and chest on the ground
Might be panting or barking
This dog is ready for you to chase him or throw the ball for him.
Tail wagging quickly
Alert and ready to pounce
Sometimes, overly excited dogs can inadvertently scratch, jump up, or knock someone down in their excitement.
We know that each animal communicates a little differently from the next, so we encourage you to pay attention to your dog this week and see if you can figure out what he might be trying to tell you!