4 Real World Examples of Dog Body Language

Dogs Playing on the Beach in Kerala.

(Picture Credit: Geraint Rowland Photography/Getty Images)

Just like there are certain people in the neighborhood you would rather avoid on your daily commute — you know that Mrs. Jones will keep you talking for hours!–there are also certain dogs that your dog may not be completely happy about interacting with.

While you keep your head down and hide behind the tree as Mrs. Jones comes out to collect her newspaper, your dog will also have a few behaviors that can tell you exactly how they’re feeling about the people and dogs they meet on their travels.

But what are those behaviors, and how do we understand dog body language?

Body Language And Behaviors: Putting It All Together

Dogs Playing On Grassy Field

(Picture Credit: Ibolya Szabo / EyeEm/Getty Images)

It can be difficult to tell just from one gesture or action what a dog is feeling. That’s why you need to look at all of your dog’s body language to find out what they need.

One action may be a sign of fear in one situation, or it can be a sign of happiness in another. For example, when dogs’ bodies are relaxed and you see play-bowing, then growling is just part and parcel of the interaction.

Pet parents should be concerned when growling is accompanied with snarling, lip-lifting, lip-licking, widened eyes, or stiff posture.

Dogs can also make a lot of noise when they play, in the form of grumbling.

An older dog grumbling at a puppy could indicate that they’re fed up with the interaction, but they’ll usually flick their head towards the pup and attempt to remove themselves. On the other hand, if two Boxers are shoulder barging and play bowing, chances are their grumbling is just part of the play.

To establish how well an interaction is going between two or more dogs, we need to look at their whole bodies. We need to look at all the behaviors demonstrated. A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is happy. A slow, tentative wag usually means they’re stressed.

Pay attention to your dog’s interactions and those of other dogs around you. If you see any signs a dog is stressed, either remove the dog or remove the stressor.

How do you know how your dog is feeling from body language? Can you tell what your dog’s different sounds and movements mean? Let us know in the comments below!