Even though dogs never say a word, they’re able to say a whole lot. Besides their bark, dogs communicate with us through body language – their mouths, ears, tails, and posture tell a story about how they’re feeling and what they need. But unless you’re already an expert, learning to read this body language can be tricky.

So, when your dog is wagging his tail differently or giving you a strange look, what is he trying to tell you? Read on below to learn about some of the most common dog body language and what it means.

Posture

The way your dog stands and moves can tell you a ton about their mood. For instance, a dog perched on its hind legs and looking up at you or cocking its head to the side is attentive and ready to interact. When your dog “takes a bow” and stretches into their front legs, that means they’re ready to play! These and other relaxed signs, like rolling onto the back, show trust, playfulness, and confidence.

Other postures to look for are a pointed or directed stance, which means your dog had probably found something they’re interested in. A curved or arched back can mean your dog is stressed out or fearful, so make sure to pay attention and fix the situation.

Face

Just like posture, your dog communicates a lot from facial expressions. Soft, squinty eyes, floppy ears, and a slightly open mouth mean that your dog is relaxed and playful. There are a lot of subtle signs that can have much different meanings, though. 

When your dog licks their lips or yawns a lot, that could mean that they’re stressed out or anxious. Your dog might also look away from you or only look at you from the corner of their eyes. These signs might be subtle – but your dog is trying to let you know that the situation is a little too stressful for them!

Tail

Most people think that a wagging tail always means a happy dog – but that’s not always the case. If your dog is wagging their tail quickly and widely side-to-side, that probably means they’re pretty excited about something! But if your dog is wagging their tail slowly, they might just be checking out their environment.

If your dog is holding its tail between its legs, that could mean that it feels scared or threatened.

Things to Watch For

As you can see, dogs like to give lots of signals about how they’re feeling – if you know what to look for. Make sure you pay attention to your dog’s body language, especially if they seem nervous, stressed, or uncomfortable.

If your dog shows an aggressive or stressed out posture and starts to growl, bare their teeth, nip at the air, or stare intently, pay attention! These are important warning signs that could mean your dog feels really threatened and might act aggressively.

Practice Makes Perfect

Getting to know a dog’s body language takes time and practice. At Argos Dog Training, we can help you learn how to read your dog’s behavior – and improve it. With our expertise obedience training, we can help your dog learn better behaviors in all kinds of environments. Check out our dog training courses in Boston here, and get in contact with us today to get started!