Dog Body Language

Dog Body Language

Body Language and Mood 

It's easy to interpret a dog's behavior the same way you might interpret a friend's. But it's important to remember that dogs and humans aren't the same, and it's worth getting to know the way dogs communicate.


You can tell a dog is in a friendly mood when his ears are relaxed, his tail is flat, with plenty of wagging, and he makes gentle eye contact.

dog body language - friendly


A fearful dog is usually crouching with his tail between his legs. He will also avoid looking you in the eye. He may roll over on his back or urinate while lying down. Be careful around a fearful dog, as he may bite if he feels threatened.

dog body language - fearful


If a dog's ears and tail are standing up and he is staring intently, he is showing assertion. He may put his paws on another dog's back or be pushy with the dog or with the owner.

dog body language - assertive


If he stares and holds his tail motionless, growls, and holds his ears forward, he may be a threat. Watch out for this behavior in a dog.

dog body language - assertive


When a dog pushes his chest to the ground and holds his rear and tail in the air, he is trying to initiate play.

dog body language - playful

This basic list of moods is a starting point for reading your dog. Hopefully some mindful observation of your dog accompanied with these tips will help you get a read on his body language.

Print Icon
Email Icon
Related Articles
Learn specific interventions for behaviors from leash pulling to inappropriate digging
If your dog is afraid of thunder and has storm anxiety, there are some things you can do to help calm your dog. Learn 5 ways to calm your dog during a storm and how positive reinforcement can go a long way.