Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dog Body Language Explained

Dogs speak to us, but in a different language. Unfortunately, there's no Rosetta Stone DVD to help us learn "dog talk." So, instead, we must analyze it ourselves, keeping it in context, avoiding asserting our own interpretations, and remembering that dogs were once wild animals.

 Confident and Relaxed

  • Stance - erect
  • Tail - wagging slowly
  • Ears - pricked up but with a relaxed look
  • Eyes - small pupils
  • Mouth - closed or slight parting of lips

Fearful or Anxious

  • Stance - lowered
  • Tail - tucked under
  • Ears - down
  • Eyes - a wide-eyed look with the whites showing
  • Mouth - panting


  • Stance - rigid
  • Tail - straight up or out behind, very rigid
  • Ears - pricked up
  • Eyes - intense, focused stare
  • Mouth - lips are pulled back and some teeth show
  • Hackles - this is a line of hair that starts at the base of the neck and runs down the shoulders. It is raised if a dog is feeling aggressive and lowered if he is relaxed.


  • Stance - dog is pulled into himself
  • Tail - tucked completely under
  • Ears - lying down
  • Eyes - wide-eyed and trouble focusing
  • Mouth - lips pulled back slightly or heavy panting


  • Stance - lying down or standing without any alertness
  • Tail - up and wagging or lying naturally
  • Ears - at their normal state, depending on the breed (A Terrier's would be up but relaxed, a Hound's would be down)
  • Eyes - normal pupil dilation, focused but not staring
  • Mouth - open and lightly panting or closed

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