Everything You Need to Know About Dog Body Language

A dog’s body language can seem complex. However, they do things a certain way to communicate their intentions and emotions. just like cats do. This can be a bit different than how humans are used to communicating. Many dogs will use whines, growls, and barks to communicate. This is why it is essential to know the sounds that your dog makes and what those mean.

However, their nonverbal body language will tell you a lot, too. You will need to pay attention to dog ears and other parts of their body. Keep reading here to find out more about dog body language

Tail Wagging

Are you interested to learn more about dog behavior in your dog? If so, tail wagging is one of the things that you should know more about. This behavior might seem obvious. However, it isn’t always easy to tell what your dog wants. If your dog is wagging their tail, they might be aroused emotionally. Many people think it just means their dog is happy. It could also mean your dog is frustrated or scared. 

Do you want to properly figure out why your dog is wagging their tail? If so, you should pay attention to how fast their tail is wagging and what direction their wag is going. The position of their tail matters, as well. 

If your dog is wagging their tail quickly, it could mean they are extremely aroused. If your dog is wagging their tail slowly and side-to-side, it could mean your dog is relaxed. Dogs that are wagging their tail quickly, but in a twitchy way, are usually feeling scared. They might be trying to guard their family

A tail-wagging study showed that dogs usually wag their tail over to the right if they feel positive and to the left when they are experiencing negative emotions. When their tail is going in a circle, they are usually happy.

Last, but not least, the higher your dog’s tail is, the more on-guard they are feeling. The lower their tail is, the more stressed and fearful they are. If it is somewhere in the middle, your dog is probably in a happy mood. 

Now that you know more about dog language based on your dog’s tail wagging, you should learn more about raised hackles. 

Raised Hackles

The hackles on a dog are the hairs that rise up on their neck. If your dog’s hackles rise, this is known as piloerection. Their fur might fluff up around their shoulders and even down across their back. Sometimes, their fur will rise completely down to their tail. This is a sure sign that your dog is actively aroused. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it could mean your dog is stressed or upset, it could also mean they are interested or excited about something. If this is happening, you should check out their other types of body language to determine the cause. 


Another dog behavior that you should pay attention to is your dog’s posture. The way that your dog is standing can tell so much about their intention and mood. Think about it for a moment. If you see a dog that is cowered in a corner, they are likely stressed or scared of something. If you see a dog that is rolled onto their back with their belly exposed, they might want a belly rub, be relaxed, or be showing another dog they are giving in. 

If you notice your dog’s posture is shifted forward, they are likely trying to be closer to a particular object or person. It could mean they are interested in something. However, it could also mean they are being aggressive toward another animal or human. The rest of their body language will help you to figure this out. 

If your dog is playing bow, they are usually trying to play. They might do this with another dog or a human. 

Figuring Out Your Dog’s Body Language

It is important to remember that one body language or dog behavior sign isn’t enough to figure out exactly how your dog is feeling or what they are thinking.

Each dog behavior should be looked at alongside the other behaviors the dog is displaying. For instance, if your dog is shifting their weight forward, it could mean they are being aggressive or it could mean they are interested in something. If they also have their tail up high, they are likely being aggressive.

However, if their tail is level with their body and wagging in circles, they are probably interested in something. Once you can start figuring out your dog’s body language, you can begin knowing more about how they are feeling and what they are thinking. 


A dog can display a range of behaviors. They might growl, whine, or bark to let you know how they are feeling. However, there are times when they won’t make a sound, especially with barkless dogs, and you still need to know what emotions they are having.

The good news is that once you can start decoding your dog’s body language, you can better understand their emotions and thoughts. The dog language may be different from one dog to the next, just like their temperament, so decoding these behaviors may not mean the same thing for each dog that you have. 

Do dogs have feelings?

Yes, dogs do have feelings. They can feel scared, fearful, frustrated, happy, excited, content, bored, and much more. If you can start determining how your dog is feeling, you can make them feel better when they are frustrated, upset, or scared.

How do dogs communicate?

Dogs communicate in many different ways. They may whine, growl or bark to tell you how they are feeling. They might scream or whimper if they are hurt. They may pant if they are thirsty. They also have a range of body language cues to tell you how they are feeling.

Why do dogs put their ears back?

Usually, if your dog’s ears are pushed back, it means they are feeling friendly. However, if they are tightly back near their head, it usually means they are feeling timid or they are fearful of something. This could be different for each dog that you have.

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Written by Leo Roux

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