Most dog owners will do almost anything to keep their dog happy. We buy them treats, give them pets, and play around with them. Most dogs ask for very little, but it’s not unusual for dog owners to go above and beyond when it comes to their precious pooch. But because your dog can’t speak, there’s always that voice in the back of your head that wonders whether your dog is truly happy.
Behaviour varies from one dog to the next, and you may have picked up on some things that tell you whether your dog is happy or sad. Dogs mainly communicate with body language and are seldom shy about showing their affection. Whether your dog is a big Saint Bernard or you’ve just gotten a new Bordoodle puppy, there are signs that show they’re happy. Check out these indicators that your dog is loving life:
This is a sign that most dog owners will already know. If your dog lays down on their back and shows you their belly while opening their mouth, it’s a pretty good sign that they’re happy. They trust you enough to expose their vulnerable stomach, while being relaxed enough to bare their teeth. However, if they appear stiff and apprehensive with a closed mouth, it could be that they’re simply being submissive. The difference between the two poses is easy enough to spot.
The doggy smile
Happy dogs can often give the impression that they’re smiling. This generally happens because the mouth is soft and partially open, and the corners of the dog’s mouth are turned up. If the dog’s lips aren’t curled and the teeth aren’t bared, then the dog is likely calm and relaxed.
It’s sometimes easy to confuse the doggy smile with other dog body language. If the dog appears to be smiling but the rest of their body looks tense or slumped, then it may simply be open-mouth panting.
Wiggling and tail-wagging
Happy dogs will usually wiggle as they wag their tails. This means the dog’s body and muscles are relaxed, and the force of the tail wag will often be enough to cause their entire body to move. For some dogs, it can almost seem like they’re being waved around by their tail. Tail wagging on its own can mean a number of different things for a dog’s mood, but when your dog is wiggling along with it, you can be sure that your dog is happy.
On the other hand, if your dog wags but their body is stiff, it could mean that they’re alert and investigating an unfamiliar situation.
Soft puppy-dog eyes
A happy dog will have relaxed eyes and a soft gaze. Blinking often is also a sign that the dog is calm and happy. Because dogs have different eye shapes and sizes, it’s a good idea to observe your dog when they do different activities to get a better gauge of how their eyes look when they experience different emotions. In general, displaying the whites of the eyes means a dog is tense or frightened, while a hard stare and narrowed eyes mean that a dog is about to be aggressive.
A dog’s ears can communicate a lot about their emotions. While dog ears vary from one breed to the next, happy dogs will have relaxed, floppy ears that fall naturally. Ears that are standing upright means that a dog is alert, while ears that are pinned back against the skull means that a dog is anxious or aggressive. Basically, the less tension that a dog feels, the more relaxed their ears will be.
Dogs will do play bows to show that they’re not aggressive and are ready to play. Their chest will lower to the ground, but their rear will stay in the air. This means that they’re feeling energetic and want to interact with you.
Hopping and dancing
Happy dogs will often do little hops or stand on their hind legs. This typically happens when they see someone or something that they like. Some dogs will even bounce side to side and mix in some play bows as they do it. The quick movements means they’re eager and ready for fun!
Happy dogs are eager to touch you and be touched by you. When you pet or scratch your dog, they’ll sometimes lean into it. This is one of the sure signs that your dog is happy and relaxed. Leaning away from the touch could mean that they need some space.
Other times, your dog may simply sit beside you and lean into your body. This shows that the dog is happy and is feeling affectionate towards you.
There you have it – eight of the sure-fire signs that your dog is living their best life. Dogs can often display more than one of these behaviours when they’re really happy.