Dogs may not be able to speak humans words, but they have a language of their own. They use their bodies to communicate with both humans and other animals. The veteran pet parent will know what their dog wants because they are familiar with that dog’s body language, but for all new pet parents out there here is a quick guide to understanding what your dog’s body is telling you.


Probably their biggest tell; you’ll know when a dog is happy when their posture is relaxed. They might be panting and running around in excitement as well. Perked up ears and a wagging tail are also signs of a happy dog.


Dogs display curiosity in a few ways. You may see your dog’s ears pointed forward and their neck sticking out. They may be tense, with their tail pointed upward and slowly wagging. Lastly, the most common displays of curiosity in dogs is when they tilt their head sideways a little.


If you’ve ever turned around to find your dog making prolonged eye contact with you, they likely want something. Dogs stare at their owners, or other people when they want to get their attention. They might get vocal to further get your attention. Stomping their feet is also another sign your dog wants something from you, whether it’s food, a walk, or just to cuddle with you.


Dogs exhibiting fear or anxiety will behave avoidantly. They’ll hide behind a person or object, or turn their head away. Other commons signs your dog is fearful or anxious are putting their tail between their legs, trembling, and ears that are turned back and downward.


A dog displaying aggressive behavior might be exposing their teeth, growling, snarling, and barking. Their body will be tense, with their legs apart and head low in an attack stance. They might also lunge and bite. An example of when a dog might be aggressive is when they are resource guarding.


A submissive dog will bow their head to you and point their ears downward. If a dog is really comfortable with you they might roll over onto their back, exposing their belly. They might do this to another dog as well to show that they mean no harm. Another way dogs show each other that they are submissive is by turning their back to another dog when initiating play.