Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language


They say that it takes a matter of seconds to form a first impression of someone. In mere moments, our brains analyze a person’s body language and demeanor to form a comprehensive impression of the person we’re meeting. Whether this impression is completely correct or not, it’s a huge indicator of how the rest of the relationship with this new person may play out. But dogs display emotion a little differently - and getting better at understanding them on first meeting can pave the way for a smoother relationship.

A recent study by the University of Lincoln demonstrated that both children and adults have a tendency to misjudge dogs’ demeanors based on their body language. Misinterpreting a dog’s body language can lead to stress for both you and the dog, so getting a handle on what dogs’ body language means is an important step in dog ownership. Here are a few tips on understanding your dog’s body language:

  • Watch the way your dog’s ears are pointed. When they’re pointed up and perky, your dog is in a great mood. If your dog tilts their ears forward, they’re alert, maybe trying to pick up a noise. If they’re laid back flat, your dog is displaying signs of fear and submission. If your dog has floppy ears, it may be a little more difficult to tell which way their ears are tilted, but pay attention to the positions of their ears when they’re in different situations and you’ll be able to recognize the patterns.

  • What teeth can tell you: When your dog shows its teeth, it’s probably not smiling. Nose curling and showing the teeth and gums is a sign of aggression and can indicate that your dog is ready to snap. You may have seen some videos of people telling their dogs to “smile,” but don’t accept this as the norm! Showing teeth is not a good sign.

  • The tail tells a tale. Your dog’s tale is also a huge indicator of his mood. When your dog is relaxed, his tail will be relaxed. An alert or aggressive dog will have a tail that stands up and maybe even bristles, while a fearful, submissive dog will tuck its tail between its legs. Of course, a lot of wiggling and wagging is a good sign, but you’ll notice even an excited dog’s tail won’t stand up like an aggressive one’s.

When you learn to read your dogs’ body language, you’ll find that your dog is a very expressive creature who lets you know exactly what he wants! Especially if you have children, it’s a great idea to read a few books and do research on dogs’ body language before you welcome a new dog into your home. Having a clear understanding of what your dog is telling you will help avoid accidents and lead to a happy, healthy relationship. To learn more about Pawsitively Pure, click here.

Lex Burton