What’s up, dog? : Understanding canine body language

What’s up, dog? : Understanding canine body language

Ever wish your dog could talk to you? Truth is they’re communicating with you all the time. Dogs use a combination of ear flicks, eye movement, postures, tail wags and vocalizations to send signals about their intent. Understanding dog body language can help you connect and communicate with your pet better. Here are some dog body language tips according to their moods:

Mood: Relaxed

Dog body language tips for relaxed mood
A relaxed dog is at home with his or her surroundings and does not appear particularly stimulated.

Additional tips: Walking slowly | Sniffing around lazily | Tail at mid height or held low | Ears relaxed

Mood: Friendly

How to know when a dog is friendly

A friendly dog is curious and more often than not encourages interaction on his own.

Additional tips: Submissive pressed-back ears | Smaller, unsure tail swings | Tentative gait

Mood: Playful

Dog body language tips for playful mood
A playful dog will try to get your attention by bounding, jumping or running towards you.

Additional tips: Light gait | Tail up for alertness | High-pitched barking | Panting | Digging

Mood: Aggressive

How to know if a dog is angry

An aggressive dog responds to threats by marking territory and asserting dominance over other dogs.

Additional tips: Tail wagging and stopping | Head lowered & ready to charge

Mood: Scared

Dog body language tips - Scared mood
A scared dog can be unpredictable so give it a lot of space and avoid sudden gestures.

Additional tips: Crouched body | Might snarl | Might raise hackles | Urination | Tail between legs


Mood: Depressed

how to know if a dog is depressed

A dog can get depressed too due to medical conditions or traumatic events such as an owner or fellow pet passing away, abandonment or a sudden change in environment.

Additional tips: Tail down | No interest in his surroundings or food

Dogs go through a variety of other moods too such as curiosity, surprise, alertness etc. The key is to watch the ears, eyes and the tail — they can tell you a lot. Of course, the more time you spend with your dog, the better you’ll get at understanding dog body language.

If your dog seems unpredictable and doesn’t display behaviours as shown in this dog body language tips chart, consult a canine behaviourist and veterinarian to understand the root cause of the problem.

Back to blog

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Once-a-week short reads on pet care tips, advice from experts and more.