Wondering how your dog is feeling?

Published 12 August 2019

A dog’s body language and behaviour can cue you into how it’s feeling – happy and relaxed, or nervous and fearful. Learn to read the signs and you’ll know whether your pet is happy to proceed.

Happy and relaxed

  • “Smiling”, open mouth, or a “big, cheesy grin” Tongue relaxed, may be lolling out. 
  • Eyes and ears are relaxed and soft, or eyes are squinty
  • Body movements are loose and wiggly
  • Tail is low and waggly
  • Head high, curious manner

Nervous or fearful

  • Cowering or pacing
  • Tenseness – ears back, hard eyes, mouth closed, stiff body
  • Pulling or leaning back from perceived threat
  • Licking lips, panting, yawning when not hungry or tired
  • “Whale eyes” – the whites of the dog’s eyes show because it has turned its head away from what it is looking at
  • Aggressive responses like lunging, barking

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