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What's Their Body Language Telling You?

As dog owners, we wish that our furry companion could speak to us and tell us what they are thinking or feeling. Are they sad, nervous, happy, fearful, angry? Although dogs may not be able to communicate verbally and tell us how they feel, we fortunately are able to recognize and interpret their body language to give us an understanding. Once you've taken the time to learn how to read their body signals, you will better know their feelings, motivations, and help predict what they are likely to do next. Knowing a dog's body language will help you and your family be able to interact with dogs, both your own and other, in a safe and pleasing way. Below is listed the common body language cues to look out for.

The Confident and Happy Dog
Eyes - tiny pupils
Ears - perked up but relaxed
Tail - slowly wagging
Stance - straight
Mouth - closed or slight parting of the lips


Eyes - intense and focused
Ears - perked up
Tail - straight up, extremely rigid
Stance - stiff
Mouth - lips back and showing teeth
Hackles - a line of hair that runs from the base of the neck down to the shoulders. When a dog is feeling aggressive, the hair will be raised.

Fear Aggressive

Eyes - wide eyed
Ears - lying down
Tail - tucked between the legs
Stance - pulled into themselves
Mouth - slightly pulled back lips and extreme panting

Fearful or Anxious

Eyes - wide eyed look
Ears - down
Tail - tucked between legs
Stance - cowering
Mouth - open and panting


Eyes - normal pupils, focused but not intensely staring
Ears - at their normal state
Tail - pointed up and wagging or lying naturally
Stance - lying down or standing relaxed
Mouth - closed or slightly open with some panting

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact Eagle Animal Hospital at 610-458-8789. Eagle Animal Hospital serves Chester Springs, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore, and surrounding areas.

Written by Alyson Kelly, Veterinary Technician


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