dog body language
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8 Dog Body Language Positions and What They Mean!

Do you fully understand your pup? Many times we wish our dogs could talk to us but did you know that dogs try to communicate with us using their body language! Dogs mainly communicate with there body than with there voice. It’s up to us as there owners to be able to understand what our dogs are trying to communicate with there bodies luckily we have compiled a list of 7 important dog body language signs and what they mean!

Dog Body Language

Dogs communicate with other dogs and us humans with there body language. As owners, we often overlook what our dogs are trying to communicate to us whether that’s your dog saying he feels uncomfortable or is trying to play!

1. Low Ears and Low Tail

Dog body language

When your dog has his ears back and his tail lowered or even tucked under him, your dog is saying he feels ”uncomfortable”

When your dog is displaying this dog body language you want to be aware of what is causing your dog to feel this way. Once you understand what is causing the discomfort in your dog, you can help your dog through the issue.

You can take your dog away from whatever is making your dog feel uncomfortable but doing that will not solve the underlying reason why your dog feels like that in the first place. 

The best course of action is to help your dog overcome his fears by gradually showing your dog that whatever he is worried about is no big deal!

2. Yawning

Dog body language

We see dogs yawning all the time but does that mean that your dog is bored or sleepy all the time? No, it doesn’t! Yawning is a way for dogs to regulate their body when they feel stressed.

Just because your dog yawns doesn’t mean that your dog is extremely stressed it just means that your pup feels a little on edge.

You see many dogs yawn when waiting at the vet or even when waiting to be let out for a walk, this simply occurs in anticipation of something about to happen or just stress.

Of course, there are times when your dog yawns that it is simply that just a yawn, it all depends on the context that your dog yawns in.

3. Lip Curl /Showing Teeth

Dog body language

Seeing a dog show his or her teeth isn’t always the happiest sight!

As humans we show teeth to smile, well dogs show teeth for the complete opposite reason!

Dogs curl their lips and show their teeth as a warning to others, your dog may curl his lips and show teeth if he feels uncomfortable, threatened, cornered, guarding, or simply if your dog is trying to deter something from occurring.

When a pup displays this kind of dog body language showing his or her teeth, your dog is essentially saying ”back off”. 

If you notice that your dog is showing teeth more and more it’s likely because at some point your dog has learned that if he or she shows teeth than whatever your dog wants to back off will.

for instance, a dog can show teeth to communicate with another dog “leave my toy alone” or “get out of my space”

A dog who is consistently displaying this behavior should be supervised and trained to teach your dog how to respond alternatively instead of showing teeth

A dog who shows his teeth is a serious matter that should be tended to as soon as possible if your pup were to show teeth to the wrong dog chaos is bound to arise.

4. Play Bow

Dog body language

A bow here, a bow there, when one dog bows we see another join in and bow!

When a dog bows its simply saying “wanna play?” Dogs and puppies do this all the time as a way to initiate play with one another and even us!

When a dog bows its essentially an invention for play, the proper response to a bow from a dog is another bow from the other dog signifying “I accept your play invitation”

The bow is a very important aspect for dogs and puppies if a dog tries to play or rough house without first initiating the bow then that dog’s intention may be seen as aggressive.

The more two individual dogs play the shorter the bow gets, a bow between two dogs who just met is completely different than the abbreviated bow of two well known long playmates.

5. Raised Hackles

Not many owners experience the dog body language of raised hackles with there dogs raised hackles is when the hair on your dog’s spine is raised like a porky pine!

The Scientific name piloerection occurs in dogs for two reasons, the first reason for raised hackles is your dog may be nervous or anxious.

The second reason for raised hackle is excitement in your dog, some dogs have raised hackle simply because there excited!

Raised hackles in dogs are an involuntary response and occur whenever dogs feel in one of the two ways mentioned above.

6. Panting When It’s Not Hot

Dog body language

If you noticed your dog panting when it’s not hot don’t be alarmed that’s perfectly normal for dogs!

Dogs start panting when they feel stressed, excited or tired. 

When your dog pants due to stress its a healthier way to relieve stress then whining, when your dog whines due to stress your pup is keeping all the stress and anxiety pent up. 

When your pup starts panting your dog is expelling energy in a healthier way instead of having bottled up anxiety.

7. Stiff Body

If you see a dog who normally is aloof stiffened up be aware and ready because that dog just might be seconds away from biting!

Dogs who stiffen up are usually stressed and on the verge to snap.

The stiffness in body language is usually accompanied by large widened eyes, erect stiff tail, and complete silence and stiffness!

In situations like the one described above, you want to immediately interrupt your dog and snap your pup out of that state of mind, especially if your dog is next to another pup!

8. One Paw Raised Up

More often than not you have probably seen a dog who only has one paw raised and is staying still.

When you see a dog who has just one paw raised whether standing or sitting still, you just found a dog who is debating what to do!

Next time you see a dog with just one of his paws off the ground you know that based your dog body language is deciding between 2 distinct actions to take. 

You see this when your dog is presented with choices to make and distractions. 

For instance, you may be at a busy park with your pup and the moment you say sit your dog sits but then raises a paw looking towards the distractions. 

What does that tell you?

Your dog is distracted and conflicted about his decisions, to teach your dog to listen and be able to ignore outside distractions be sure to read our why my dog doesn’t listen outside article!


Dogs communicate with us and other dogs all the time, it’s up to us as there owners to understand how to properly read what our pups are communicating to us!

Having a clear understanding of what dog body language means you put yourself in a position to help your dog when your pup tries to communicate with you. 

To awaken your dog’s true potential contact us here or Give us a call!

Receive your free dog training consultation and set your pup up for success!

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