Dogs use not only barking and growling to communicate with people. Dogs language includes many sounds and moreover many body movements and poses that are important for understanding their desires and thoughts. 

Most people have understood simple dog’s body signs since childhood. When a dog is growling — it is angry or scared. When a dog is wiggling the tale — it’s happy to see you. However, there are more than two emotions that can be read from a dog’s body. Canines use their muzzle expression, ears position, and tails’ movements in different combinations to tell what they feel. Let’s learn how to understand your pet’s body language.

What do the muzzle expressions mean? 

Let’s start from the very first and the most noticeable body language changes — expressions that can appear on your dog’s muzzle. They can explain a lot about the behavior of your dog and help to understand what to do with it. 


If your dog is not sleepy or tired, then yawning is a process that comforts your dog in any stressful or tense situation. If you notice that a dog is stressed, try to remove the stressor (or dog from it) as fast as you can. The next step is to distract your canine by ordering some simple commands like “sit”, “down” and “hill”. It will help to comfort your pup faster than anything else. 

Looking down or averting eyes 

By not looking right in the owner’s eyes a dog shows its submissive behavior. It’s just a habit of politeness. These body signs don’t need any specific actions from the owner except supportive appealing and petting. 

Widely opened eyes 

Your dog looking somewhere strictly with widely opened eyes and sclera visible means that they feel anxiety and disturbance. If the canine shows other aggression signs — you should leave it alone till the dog will be calm or check what disturbs the dog and eliminate that stress factor. 

Opened mouth

Do you notice how your dog opens its mouth while you eat something delicious? Yep, the opened mouth means that your dog extremely wants you to share with it. However, this body sign has one more pleasant meaning — your dog opens its mouth when it’s relaxed and satisfied. 

dog is yawning

Photo created by jcomp 

Bared teeth

This sign of dog body language has two meanings depending on circumstances and other accompanying body signs. If your dog accompanies bared teeth with growling, raised fur, and defensive posture it means that your canine has aggressive intentions and will use its teeth unless you or someone else won’t stop. Bared teeth with no accompanying body signs can mean a submissive grin or even a smile. 

Lip licking

Does your dog lick its lips looking at a fried chicken? Everything is fine with your furry friend. If there is no plate with delicious food and your dog still constantly licks its lips — it’s a significant sign that your dog is frightened or anxious. Accompanying lips licking with other signals like frequent breathing and a tail between legs means your dog feels the horrible stress. The first actions to comfort your canine are eliminating stress or frightening factors, going away, or distracting the dog. 

Dog’s body postures meaning

Of course, it is almost impossible to not understand when a dog is aggressive and going to bite. But dog body language has more different postures that can detect the temper and mood of a pet. Awareness about these postures will prevent many conflicts or even dangerous situations and are required to know for all dog owners. 

Relaxed posture 

You can identify this posture by looking at a dog’s body. A tail hangs naturally, ears are relaxed, a dog doesn’t look precisely in the owner’s eyes and doesn’t look down. Jaws are slightly opened in the corners, teeth are closed or slightly opened. All of these signs mean that your dog is calm and needs a rest. 

Dog is excited 

You will identify this condition by a dog’s fast coming to a person or an object, including running, jumping, and playful movements. Dog’s ears are raised up and a tale constantly moves. Sometimes if a pet is overexcited it can even start barking and whining. 

Scared posture

All dogs can show their fear in a different way. It depends on the temper of your pet. Some dogs can attack, hide, show their submissive behavior, and look for comfort and support from owners.  The most significant body movements that mean fear are shaking, pressing a body to the ground, hiding a tail between legs. 

Playful body signs

Dogs that want to play are extremely noticeable. The front half of the dog’s body is pressed to the ground, and the back legs are straight. Its tail moves and jaws are often opened in a smile. This posture definitely means that your pet welcomes you or another dog to play. 

Dog is playing

Photo created by ViDIstudio

Tense posture

A tense and slightly lowered dog’s body means that your pet feels uncomfortable. Some dogs accompany these signs with yawning and frequent breathing.  

Aggressive posture

Concentrated and precisive sight, tensed body, raised scruff fur, bared teeth, and growling. These signs mean that a dog is one hundred percent aggressive and preparing to attack. To avoid the attack try to calm down your dog, eliminate the stress factor or go away from it. 


These dog body signs won’t necessarily make you understand your dog in any circumstances. But they will help you to avoid and prevent so many uncomfortable situations, especially in the first year of your dog’s ownership.