It’s in the language!

A comprehensive guide to the body language of our beautiful dogs.

Back in August 2016 I shared a post with you all from about interpreting the growls of a dog. It seemed to be liked by many of you.

Now fast forward to eleven days ago and an email that came in from Emma.

Dear Learning from Dogs Team,
My name’s Emma, a blogger at Hello Cute Pup.

I have been reading your blog for some time, and I absolutely love what you have been doing! Your content inspires me on a daily basis, and I’m really in love with your website.

I’ve been thinking about how I could help add value to you and your blog and I would love to contribute a guest post on your site.

I was inspired to write this article after reading your great piece “Why Dogs Are Friendly”.

I promise that I will provide HIGH-quality content that you won’t find anywhere else.

As a pet parent myself, I’ve had tons of amazing experience that I could bring to your audience.

Here are some links to other pieces that I have written to give you an idea of the quality that I am bringing to the table.

Dog Express
Imagine Forest

Safe and Healthy Life

Let me know if you are interested. I already know your blogging style, plus I understand what your readers love as I am one.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Cheers and have a good day!


Well you all know me sufficiently well to know that I couldn’t resist. Especially after seeing how nicely Emma had presented those pieces she linked to above.

Here is Emma’s article.


A Comprehensive Guide to Basic Dog Body Language

Understanding your loved ones’ body language is always important. If you understand how your partner, sister, mother, or father acts when they feel a certain way, you can more accurately meet their emotional needs. This is the same as it is with the canine members of your family.

Understanding how your dog behaves when he or she feels certain things will help you bond, and help build trust, as well as make both you and your dog happier.

How do you decode dog behavior? There are a few ways, and a few certain body signals that your dog will give you that you should understand. Here are a few of them.

Play Bow

You may have noticed that when a dog is feeling frisky and energetic, he or she will bow their front end to the ground and push their rear end into the air. Typically, this means that the dog wants to play.

Tail Wagging

It’s a common belief that tail wagging means that a dog is happy. While this can be true, tail wagging can also mean a few other things.

  • A tail that wags low can mean your dog is scared or unsure.
  • A high and stiff tail wag can mean that your dog feels irritated, scared, or unsure. This kind of tail wagging can often lead to a dog becoming aggressive if pushed.


Dogs often “freeze” when they are scared or guarding something like food, water, a toy, or their owner. This means that the dog will stop what he or she is doing and stand in one position without moving. When a dog is frozen, he or she is more likely to bite.


When a dog rolls over, it usually means that he or she is submissive- but it’s important to pay attention to the dog’s whole body. If your dog’s tail and mouth are hanging loose, it can mean that he or she wants a belly rub or some attention. If the tail is tucked in or his or her mouth is stiff, it can mean that your dog is scared or nervous. Before you touch a dog who is rolled over, look for the signs of comfort.
Perked Ears

Chances are, if you own a dog, you’ve seen him or her with his ears perked up. This means that your dog is alert and attentive.
Tail Between Legs

When a dog tucks his or her tail between his legs, this is a classic sign of fear. Dogs who are scared, as a general rule of thumb, are prone to becoming aggressive in an attempt to protect themselves- so be careful when getting too close to a dog who is acting fearful.
Signs of stress

Like humans, dogs can become stressed. Stress in dogs can make them act in certain ways and exhibit specific body language. Some of the signs that mean that a dog is stressed are:

  • Yawning in new situations
  • Panting when it isn’t hot
  • Licking their front paws as someone new approaches
  • Licking of the lips despite not recently having eaten or drank
  • Scratching
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Shaking himself off after someone new touches him
  • Highly audible exhales that can be accompanied by whining or avoiding eye contact
  • Lying down and refusing to participate

Signs of fear

Dogs exhibit easy-to-read signs of fear. Some of these signs are:

  • Drooling
  • Pacing
  • Tucking his tail while moving away from something
  • Whining
  • His or her feet start to sweat
  • Growling and moving away
  • Curling his or her lips and showing teeth
  • Trying to hide
  • Running away

Signs of Happiness

Along with taking up the play bow position, dogs offer us other physical signs that they are happy. These include:

  • Energetic tail wagging
  • Tail thumping on the floor or ground
  • Lying in a relaxed, one paw tucked under, position
  • Bumping or pressing against you
  • Initiating physical contact
  • Jumping up
  • Smiling (yes, sometimes it really does look as if your dog smiles)
  • Playful barking to get your attention

Although the above behaviors are common in most dogs, it’s important to remember that dogs have individual personalities – what one dog does in a situation, isn’t necessarily what another does in that same situation. For example, if your dog reacts well with some dog shampoo, another dog might hate it. This shampoo might make him panic and he could fear baths forever.
To truly understand what your dog’s body is trying to tell you, pay attention to how he or she acts. He may react in the ways that are listed above, or he may have his own unique way of expressing to you how he feels.
Context is also a key point to focus on when you’re trying to determine how your dog feels based on his body language. For example, if your dog is being cornered by another, bigger and more intimidating dog and he wags his tail, chances are that he isn’t happy. In this situation, he more than likely is gearing up for a fight or is feeling scared.


My hopes are that Emma will be writing many more guest posts for this place.

Oh, want to know a little more about Emma?

Emma is the founder of HelloCutePup. As the owner of 3 dogs, Emma has had the pleasure of learning the ins and outs to becoming a pet owner. With years of experience working on training, at-home dog health care, and aesthetic maintenance, she has the real-world experience that every pet owner is looking for. She is an avid blogger who enjoys giving realistic tips and tricks to help dog owners understand their pet’s personalities and to help pets easily become a part of the family.


27 thoughts on “It’s in the language!

  1. Seems to be a popular theme, I see many posts about dogs language. I even posted about it once myself. There really is a lot we can learn from our pups! Thanks for sharing.


  2. Body language in a dog is vital to know. Great post. I also go by “soft eye” or “hard eye” as a guide to know if a dog is friendly or likely to become aggressive. Being able to read facial expressions of a dog is a good thing to know as well. This is great info for folks that are looking to get a pet or who are clueless about dog behavior.


    1. Somewhere a long time ago I recall hearing as to how much of the communication between us humans is non-verbal. Much more than one would imagine. Our dogs are experts at reading us!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great info. Ta.there are a few extra behaviours I may add to the blog unique to Labradors too…all utterly crazy insane and indicative of them having far too much fun. At least my Lab Dudley does anyway…


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