Trouble in Doggie Paradise? Decode Your Dog’s Body Language

Some days you feel like you and your canine companion understand each other so well, in fact, you feel like you’ve taken things to another level that transcends language. But on other days, you’re left wondering what your dog wants to tell you. You catch your pet staring into your soul (sometimes while enjoying a chew toy) and you think to yourself, half amused and half concerned, “why does my dog stare at me?” 

Dogs are non-verbal, meaning they communicate through body language such as movement and positioning of the eyes, ears, and tail. If you’re experiencing trouble in doggie paradise, hop right in. With a little extra knowledge, you can be sure that nothing will come between you and your furry pal again. 


You make eye contact with your dog multiple times a day—when it’s time for their meal, when calling them over for a training session, or when you pass them on the way to the kitchen. So before you get into another round of intense (or not so intense) eye contact with your furry best friend, take this as an opportunity to check if you two are actually on the same page. 

Friendly eyes are soft, innocent, and soulful—and yes, they’re the same puppy dog eyes you can’t resist. On the opposite side of the spectrum are “whale eyes.” Your dog will avert their head slightly but the eyes will stay fixed on something or someone, exposing the white parts of the eyes known as the sclera. If you see your dog showing the whites of their eyes, consider it as a friendly wake-up call to figure out what is causing your dog anxiety or discomfort. 

Ear position

A dog’s ears can be the windows to their state of mind. Are your dog’s ears gently pulled back? Great! That’s a good sign. It means your pet is feeling all nice and relaxed. If it’s accompanied by a happy tail wag, you can be sure that your dog is up for some cuddles. 

On the other hand, ears that are pointed up signals that your dog is curious or on alert from something. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the position of the ears gives quite a revelation: dogs slightly tip their ears in the direction of the object or person that piqued their curiosity! 

Lastly, flattened ears, or ears that are pinned back or to the sides, may either be a submissive gesture or a precursor to an attack. A telltale sign that your dog is preparing to pounce includes bared teeth and growling, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that. 

Wagging tail

A wagging tail isn’t always the sign of a friendly dog. There’s a grain of truth to this often misread gesture though, which is that a wagging tail in itself is a sign of arousal. 

It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s overall body stance. A happy dog may wag their tail and get their whole body involved. A dog who is about to bite, however, is usually fairly rigid, with their tail pointed high and moving back and forth more quickly. 

You may feel like dog body language is complicated, what with the subtle differences in body signals. However, learning how to read your dog’s body language becomes fairly easy when you know which body language signs to look for. Feel free to come back to this post whenever you need help in the decoding department, we’ll be here when you do! 



  • 7 Tips on Canine Body Language 

  • Reasons Why Your Dog Stares at You 

  • Understanding Dog Talk 

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