Dogs communicate with each other using their body language. Some of it is quite subtle, others like a fast-moving wagging tail, not so subtle. If you want to know what your puppy’s body language is telling you, read on for signs from each part of their body.
Here are the most common things to look for:
Low and not moving – relaxed
Tucked Underneath – showing submission or fear
Usual low carriage but gently wagging – happy and relaxed
Usual low carriage but wagging fast – excited and happy
Higher than usual carriage either still or wagging – Arousal excitement or tension. Could be regarding a perceived positive (eg. play) or negative (eg. aggressive) situation.
Pinned back – showing submission or fear
Back but relaxed – Relaxed and friendly
Forward and relaxed – Focused and friendly
Pricked forward – Focused, excited, aroused (play or aggression), assertive
Looking off to the side, not making eye contact – Submission, fearful, respectful.
Squinting – Submissive or relaxed greeting
Soft and direct eye contact – Happy, relaxed and friendly
Open wide – Confident and assertive
Hard stare – Confrontational, alert, excited or aroused
Lips relaxed – Calm, friendly and relaxed
Lips pulled back – Submissive, fearful
Lips moving forward, or lifting into a snarl – Threatening
Licking lips and yawning – Stressed, fearful or feeling tired!
Leaning back, body lowered, hackles may be raised. – Submissive or fearful
Standing straight at their full height – Confident
Leaning forward, standing tall, hackles may be up – Alert, excited, aroused either for play or aggression, assertive
Shoulder low and hindquarter high – Play bow, invitation to other dogs that they would like to play.
Raised hackles – sign of arousal, often aggression but also be when fearful or uncertain.
If you want to know what your puppy’s body language is telling you, learn the signs so you can better communicate during training.