How often does your dog look at you and you find yourself wondering, “What are you thinking?” You probably can tell a lot about your pet’s mood based on how they are acting, but all dogs have a few general traits in common that can help you understand them better.

Before we go on, if you have a concern about your dog’s behavior, be sure to ask us at your pet’s next appointment. In the meantime, here are a few common ways dogs communicate how they’re feeling:

  • Calm and neutral
    Relaxed body posture; no tension
    Relaxed tail, possibly wagging
    Possibly panting happily
    A calm, neutral dog is typically ready for you to greet and pet him.
  • Aggressive
    Stiff posture
    Tail moves back and forth, like a flag
    Might show teeth and/or growl
    Don’t run away from an aggressive dog. Stand tall and still and look away.
  • Scared
    Flattened ears
    Tucked tail
    Crouching lower to the ground
    A scared dog should not be approached, because he might bite if he feels the need to defend himself.
  • Anxious or Nervous
    Ears are back
    Tail is low, but the end might be wagging slightly
    Posture is leaned back or turned to the side
    Might be panting
    A dog showing signs of anxiety is nervous about his surroundings and you should avoid petting him if you don’t know him.
  • Playful
    Might “bow down” with tail in the air and wagging and front legs and chest on the ground
    Might be panting or barking
    This dog is ready for you to chase him or throw the ball for him.
  • Excited
    Forward ears
    Tail wagging quickly
    Alert and ready to pounce
    Likely panting
    Sometimes, overly excited dogs can inadvertently scratch, jump up, or knock someone down in their excitement.

We encourage you to pay attention to your dog this week and see if you can figure out what your dog might be trying to tell you! Share what you are finding and help your friends learn a bit more about their dog, too!