How to tell what your dog is feeling

dog on chair

We all wish our dogs could tell us what they’re thinking. But if you watch closely and know what to look for, you can tell how your dog is feeling; no words necessary!

Tail Wagging

A wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy. You also have to consider the speed and direction of the wag—a long, slow, side-to-side tail sweep is usually a relaxed dog.

Also, dogs with their tails pointing down to the ground or tucked between their legs are likely feeling fear and stress. Relaxed dogs usually hold their tails in a neutral position.

Facial Expressions

Dogs yawn when they’re stressed (and just as yawning is contagious in people, dogs can “catch” yawns too)! Also, just like people, dogs will lick their lips after a delicious meal, but dogs will also do it when they feel anxious.

Have you ever seen your dog smile? Usually, when dogs bare their teeth, it serves as a warning, especially when it’s paired with a growl. But smiling dogs just displaying their front teeth are often happy dogs, especially if their bodies are loose and wiggly.


When dogs feel stressed, they will look away and avoid eye contact. Also, when dogs have relaxed lids and they squint, it usually means they are feeling calm or happy. However, when dogs stare intently at something, it usually signals a threat.

When you take the time to learn what your dog is “saying” through body language and react accordingly, you will develop a deeper mutual bond of trust and respect with your pet.

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