8 Signs Your Dog Is Happy
Dogs are wonderfully intelligent creatures with extremely diverse personality types and behaviour. Some behaviours are conducted with the intention of communication, while others are natural responses to a situation or emotion. One important emotion owners should easily recognise is happiness. There are several ways to tell if your dog is happy – some are pretty intuitive while others aren’t as obvious. Here are eight signs your pup is a happy pooch.
1. The Happy Wag
The most widely-known happiness indicator in dogs is their wagging tails. While this is certainly true, a wagging tail does not always mean your dog is happy – there are distinct types of wags that owners should be able to differentiate between. When a dog is happy and excited, its tail will wag rapidly such that it involves the whole body. Happy and relaxed dogs have a more natural wag, with the tail held in a neutral position while it gently sways side to side. On the other hand, a stiff wag could indicate your dog is alert and assessing a new situation.
2. Telling Eyes
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and this is no less true for dogs. The eyes of a happy dog are relaxed and should maintain their default size and shape. The gaze is soft, and frequent blinking can be noticed. You can also look at the brows for signs: a happy, stress-free dog will have a smooth brow, much like happy humans.
3. Shake It Off
Truly ecstatic dogs will show their happiness by dropping down on their backs and wriggling about – as if they’re shaking out their uncontainable joy. This is usually accompanied by floppy tongues, compared to the submissive belly roll where the dog’s mouth is closed and body is stiff.
4. Expressive Ears
A dog’s ears are very expressive, and you can usually get a good gauge of a dog’s emotion just by looking at the ears. A happy and relaxed dog’s ears would naturally flop into its default position, while an attentive and happy dog may have its ears pricked forward. This usually happens when it is playing or if you are interacting with it. Happy dogs can also drop or lower their ears, though this is also done when they are nervous; pay attention to the rest of their body language for an accurate judgement.
5. Relaxed, Neutral Body
A big giveaway of knowing if your dog is happy is by observing its body. A happy dog’s body will be relaxed, often a little wriggly. It’s muscles should not be tense, even if it is excitedly running about. Its body should be in a neutral position with the body weight evenly distributed, compared to a fearful dog’s tendency to crouch to one side.
6. Bark Of Joy
Some dogs will produce a high-pitched bark when they are happy and excited. This often happens when they are playing, so you would easily be able to distinguish this from an aggressive bark. Happy barks are also brief and don’t last long, so you shouldn’t be too quick to hush your pup.
While we must be careful not to anthropomorphise all animals, dogs do indeed appear to be smiling when they are happy. This manifests when their mouth relaxes to a slightly-opened position with the edges a little curled upwards. Some teeth might be visible, though this is not to be confused with the aggressive sign of teeth barring. A dog that is panting with its mouth open might also be overheated or stress, so remember to read the situation and the rest of the body before making a judgement.
8. Physical Affection
A dog that leans into your hand when patted or cuddles up to you is a happy, content dog. This dog loves being in your company and shows this by being physically affectionate. This is a sure sign that your dog is not only happy, but also loves its owner.
It is important to note that all the signs mentioned above work in tandem. Often times, a particular behaviour has more than one meaning, so be sure to read your dog’s body language as a whole. A combination of several of the signs mentioned above would indicate that your dog is living a healthy, happy life.