~Long Article

Learn to Read the Universal Body Language of Dogs


4451138 - businessman with brown dog outdoor in autumn park  Body Language of Dogs


How Well Do You Understand the Universal Body Language of Dogs

The canine world has a universal language.  All of our fur-children and their wild cousins speak that language. Such diverse species as domesticated dogs, wolfs, and dingos can understand each other all over the world. 

How were do you recognize what our four-legged children are telling us?  Remember:  dogs speak with their whole body, not just the head or the tail.   Here are 12 situations.  They will help you understand what your fur-child is saying.  Like all dogs, they are using the universal body language of dogs. 🙂 

The original source for this material on the body language of dogs is an article by  Bashkim Dibra

1  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?   About to pounce? Alert?  Friendly? Scared?



Ears:    Perked-up.
Eyes:   Wide open. Alert look.
Mouth/Teeth:  Relaxed, possibly slightly open, “smiling” mouth.
Body:  Normal posture. Still, or possible wiggling of whole rear end.
Tail:  Up or out from body. Wagging.
Vocalization: Whimpering, yapping, or short, high bark.




FRIENDLY   These are characteristics of a friendly dog.


2  What is this dog telling you and other dogs? Predatory?  Sacred?  On Guard?  Alert?




Ears:    Alert. Held forward or backward to catch sounds.
Eyes:    Wide open. Staring, focusing.
Mouth/Teeth:    Mouth closed.
Body:    Rigid. Low to ground, ready to spring forward. Quietly sniffing the air.
Tail:    Straight and low.
Vocalization:    None  (so as to  not alert).




PREDATORY   These are characteristics of a predatory dog.



3  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Alert?  Guarding?  Submissive?  About to Pounce?



Ears: Perked-up. Forward.
Eyes: Wide open, alert.
Mouth/Teeth: Mouth slightly open, teeth bared. Snapping or gnashing of teeth.
Body: Tense. Rigid. Hackles up. Standing very tall in an aggressive or dominant stance.
Tail: Rigid. Held straight out from body. Sometimes fluffed.
Vocalization: Loud alert bark. Growl. Snarl.



GUARDING: These are characteristics of a guarding dog.

4  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Alert?  Guarding?  Dominant?   Aggressive?



Ears: Forward or back, close to head.
Eyes: Narrow or staring challengingly.
Mouth/Teeth: Lips open, drawn back to expose teeth bared in a snarl. Possible jaw snapping.
Body: Tense. Upright. Hackles on neck up. Completely Dominant position.
Tail: Straight out from body. Fluffed up.
Vocalization: Snarl. Growl.



AGGRESSIVE: These are the characteristics of an aggressive dog.


5  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Friendly?  Submissive? Dominant? Guarding?


Ears: Up straight or forward.
Eyes: Wide open, staring.
Mouth/Teeth: Mouth closed or slightly open.
Body: Very tall posture. Hackles may be up.
Tail: Stiffened and fluffed. Up or straight out from body.
Vocalization: Low, assertive growl or grunt.



DOMINANT:  These are the characteristics of a dominant dog.


6  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Friendly?  Alert?  Guarding?  Aggressive?


Ears: Perked-up. Turning to catch sounds.
Eyes: Open normally or wide.
Mouth/Teeth: Mouth closed or slightly open with teeth covered.
Body: Normal. Possibly standing on tiptoe. Slightly Dominant position.
Tail: Up. Possibly wagging.
Vocalization: None. Low whine or alarm bark.


ALERT:   These are the characteristics of  an alert dog



7  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Friendly?  Submissive?  Anxious?  Guarding?

Ears:    Partially back.
Eyes:    Slightly narrowed. 
Mouth/Teeth:    Mouth closed, or slightly open in a “grin.”
Body:    Tense. Slightly lowered in a Submissive position.
Tail:    Partially lowered.
Vocalization:    Low whine or moaning-type bark.


ANXIOUS  These are the characteristics of  an anxious dog


8  What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Curious?  Alert?  Guarding?  Aggressive?





Ears: Perked-up, forward-pointing.
Eyes: Wide open.
Mouth/Teeth: Mouth open, teeth covered. Possible panting.
Body: Normal stance. Possible wiggling, standing on tiptoe, or pacing.
Tail: Up. Wagging.
Vocalization: Excited short barking, whining.

Curious or Excited: These are the characteristics of  a Curious or Excited dog



9: What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Fearful?  Submissive?  Alert?  Curious?


Ears: Laid back flat and low on head.
Eyes: Narrowed, averted. Possibly rolled back in head, whites showing.
Mouth/Teeth: Lips drawn back to expose teeth.
Body: Tense. Crouched low in submissive position. Shivering, trembling. Possible secretion from anal scent glands.
Tail: Down between legs.
Vocalization: Low, worried yelp, whine, or growl.



FEARFUL: These are the characteristics of  a fearful dog


10: What is this dog telling you and other dogs?   Anxious?  Playful?  Fearful?  Alert?


Ears: Perked-up and forward, or relaxed.
Eyes: Wide open. Sparkly/merry-looking.
Mouth/Teeth: Mouth relaxed and slightly open, teeth covered. Excited panting.
Body: Relaxed, or front end lowered, rear end up in the air, wiggling in a play-bow. Excited bouncing and jumping up and down. Circling around and running forward and back in an invitation to play.
Tail: Wagging vigorously.
Vocalization: Excited barking. Soft play-growling.



PLAYFUL OR EXCITED: These are the characteristics of  a  playful or excited dog

11: What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Dominant?  Alert?  Playful?  Submissive?

Ears:    Down, flattened against head.
Eyes:    Narrowed to slits or wide open, whites showing.
Mouth/ Teeth:    Lips pulled way back from teeth in a “grin”. Nuzzling or licking other animal or person on face.
Body:    Lowered to ground, front paw raised. Lying on back, belly up. Possible urine leaking/dribbling. Possible emptying of anal scent glands.
Tail:    Down, between legs.
Vocalization:    None, or low, worried whining. Possible yelping/whimpering in fear.



SUBMISSIVE/SUBORDINATE:  These are the characteristics of  a  Submissive (Subordinate) dog


12: What is this dog telling you and other dogs?  Alert?  About to Chase?  Guarding?  Fearful?


Ears:    Perked-up, forward-pointing.
Eyes:    Wide open. Very alert.
Mouth/Teeth:    Mouth slightly open. Excited panting.
Body:    Tense. Crouched low in a predatory position. Legs bent, poised to run.
Tail:    Extended straight out from body.
Vocalization:    None.



CHASE These are the characteristics of  a dog about to chase something


If you are ready to see how well you know the universal body language of dogs, here is a quiz that will test your knowledge  Dog Language Quiz

(Source:    Bashkim Dibra )

If you liked this, you might like this as well:  Most Popular Breeds in Different Situations

You might like this article that over 14,000 of our readers have recently enjoyed. Read it here --> Goofball Boxer Positions







Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2016 DogsAllTheTime.com

To Top