Knowing how to interpret the body language of our canine friends is an important step not only for owners, but for parents trying to teach their children safe interactions with animals and anyone who is partial to a quick pat of a cute dog sitting outside the neighbourhood shops. This is the only method of communication between humans and pups, which is why it’s important to know when they want you to leave them alone, when it’s time to play and everything in between.

Take a look at this quick rundown of some typical doggie language techniques that you should be aware of.

Relaxed and approachable

A dog that is content and happy to be petted will have their ears up, tail down and relaxed and their mouth slightly open, showing their tongue. This body language suggests that they are not threatened or feeling defensive based on their surrounding environment and are usually open to being approached.


A pup that is eager to play with you will be energetic, wagging their tail high in the air and exposing their tongue. Usually they lower the front half of their body before bouncing off in a playful run, trying to grab your attention and get them to chase after them! This is an invitation to have some fun with them! This body language may even at times be accompanied by barking or playfully aggressive behaviour followed by your pooch retreating to show that they mean no harm.

Aggressive and dominant

In contrast to a relaxed pooch, one that is feeling aggressive will have its tail up in the air, where it will look stiff and bristled. Their ears will be sitting forward and their mouth will be open to show their teeth and gums. The body language will also be domineering, standing slightly forward in a very rigid manner. If you see a dog acting in this way, it’s important to remember that they are showing their dominance over their surrounding environment and are ready to act aggressively if they feel threatened by anyone.

Stressed and upset

When dogs are feeling nervous, distressed or concerned about the things going on around them, their body language will show this mental state by attempting to make themselves appear smaller. They do this by lowering their body, keeping their tail down and pushing their ears back. You will also notice that your pooch may start panting rapidly and visibly sweat through their paw pads. If possible, it’s best to try and remove your dog from any frightening situation they may be in whilst displaying this behaviour. However, it’s important to remember that they may become defensive when approached, so always be careful.

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