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June 25, 2012 at 3:38 PMComments: 3 Faves: 0

6 Signs Your Dog is Happy

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Though they can't actually tell us how they feel, just like cats, there are several non-verbal ways happy dogs express their contentment.

Here are 6:

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#1. Their Eyes

happy dog eyes

Photo Credit: recompose

A dog's eyes actually change the shape and size with their emotions. A happy dog will relax them and leave their eyes the way they are. They’ll appear normal in size and shape – it shows they are at ease with you and the environment around them. When a dog feels threatened, their eyes will appear very large. This is their way of saying “I’m feeling uncomfortable and scared!”

#2. Their Mouth

happy dog mouth smile

Photo Credit: StephenMitchell

A dog communicates with his mouth to tell us when he/she is happy as well. A relaxed, open, “smiling” mouth, communicates that the dog is pleased. I say “smiling” because sometimes dogs will show their teeth and their lips will be in an upward, relaxed position – just like a smile! I’ve seen this when my friend’s dog, Sheba, lays on her back to ask for a belly rub. She always has a silly grin on her face, which makes it hard not pat her stomach! :)

#3. Their Ears

happy dog ears pug smile

Photo Credit: LOWSPEED

Ears are trickier to read, because every breed has a different kind. Some dogs have droopy, floppy ears while others have pointed ears. Whatever way a dog’s ears sit on their head naturally, is the position they are in when a dogs is happy. An alert pup will raise his/her ears higher than normal. When a dog is feeling friendly, he will pull his ears back. However, if the ears are complete flat on his head, they may be indicating your dog is feeling very scared.

#4. Their Tails

happy dog tail wagging

Photo Credit: Rusty Clark

A dog’s tail can tell us so many things. If your dog is feeling relaxed, they’ll hold the tail in it’s natural position. A happy dog will wag their tail from side to side. He’s saying “I love you and want to tell you how happy I feel!” A REALLY happy dog will express his feelings by wagging his tail. His tail may even travel in a circular motion!

#5. Their Hair

happy dog hair beautiful coat chow chow

Photo Credit: Scarleth White

You wouldn’t think dog’s hair would show much of anything, but it really does! You just have to look for it. The amount a dog sheds may allude to how they are feeling. A happy dog will shed as much as they do normally, which varies for each breed. If a dog feels scared or stressed, balls of fur will fall out in abundance. Have you ever seen a dog stick up their hair? Usually the hair right between the shoulder blades will raise up if they are afraid, angry, insecure, nervous, or even excited. To determine which one of these it is…look for other non-verbal cues mentioned above.

#6. Their Body Posture

happy dog body posture smiling

Photo Credit: L.C.Nøttaasen

A dog has three different body stances: normal, small, or large. When a dog stands normally, these means he/she feels at ease. Their muscles appear relaxed and all their weight is distributed equally among their four legs. A playful dog will look similar, except be bouncing and jumping around to show their excitement! A small body posture tells us our dog is scared or submissive while a larger than normal positioning communicates aggressiveness. 

How does YOUR dog show you they're happy?

Photo Credit:

Jennifer Buehrer

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3 Comments

  • So true Brianne, my dogs have displayed all of these signs at some time or another. I enjoyed looking at the pictures in this blog too! Thanks

    I do have a story about big eyes - it's not because she was happy but the story goes like this - I'll never forget the time my little dog Gracie fell off our pontoon boat into the lake. See my husband had just jumped in and she would stand right on the edge of the boat looking over watching him but never ever wanting to go in. Well when he jumped in the boat must have rocked just enough to through her off balance and cur-plunk she went in after him. Since she was totally submersed when she came up you should have seen her eyes. I think they almost popped out of her head. It was funny but she was not laughing!

  • lol Nancy!

    Aww... poor Gracie! I wouldn't be thrilled by that either!

  • Great Blog! Body language speaks volumes in a doggy-world. One cautionary remark: a wagging tail doesn't always mean happy. Many dogs that have attacked or charged someone their tail was wagging. Typically you can look at the dogs whole body including the tail to see what they are really saying, a slow back-n-forth motion of a tail wag is a dog saying, I am a little unsure about the situation or you are getting to close for comfort.

    I really enjoyed all the pics too! Great job!

    Victoria

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