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10 Ways to Tell If Your Dog Is Happy

  1. By Dr. Becker

    Dog parents spend a lot — and I mean a lot of time wondering what their canine family members are trying to say through body language and vocalizations. They ask themselves questions like, “Why does she follow me from room to room,” and “Why does his tail wag while he’s growling,” and “She seems hungry. How can she be hungry? She just ate!”

    Dogs speak their own language, and in the wild, they generally understand one another because their lives are similar in most ways. In the wild, it’s crucial that animals of the same species, especially those that live in packs, are able to transmit messages and information back and forth.

    Domesticated dogs may or may not understand each other because they’ve adapted to their individual histories, environments and the behavior of their humans. So not only are you living with a different species, but one who is far removed from a “textbook” canine thanks to domestication and individual life experiences. No wonder you have so many questions!

    The biggest concern most pet parents have is whether their dog is happy. We very much want our furry family members to be happy, because they mean so much to us. Here are 10 signs your dog is a happy camper.

10 Signs Your Dog Is Happy

  1. His eyes and eyelids are relaxed, he blinks a lot, his gaze is soft and his brow is smooth. His ears are also relaxed, not cocked or pointing. His mouth is open a bit with a few teeth visible (but not bared), his tongue may be lolling and he may even appear to be smiling.
  2. She’s holding her body in a relaxed posture versus a tense or stiff stance. She’s holding her tail high and wagging it with such gusto her whole body is wiggling. Alternatively, her tail may be in a more neutral position, with a softer, slower wag.
  3. He has no destructive behaviors, even when he’s home alone. Happy dogs generally get plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Bored, under-exercised, under-stimulated dogs are more likely to become destructive, along with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
  4. She loves to play. Happy dogs are always up for a game or a walk or a ride in the car. Since exercise and play are so natural for dogs, if your canine companion doesn’t seem interested, she may be dealing with some pain or an illness, and it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
  5. He’s belly-up and tongue out. Happy dogs tend to show their bellies and tongues as they wriggle around on their backs. Happy belly displays are different from submissive belly rolls in which the dog’s mouth is usually closed and his body is stiff.
  6. Her appetite is good, which indicates she’s both happy and feeling physically well. A noticeable decrease (or increase) in your pet’s appetite can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
  7. He’s happy barking. Some dogs rarely bark, but those who do tend to have a higher-pitched bark when they’re happy that usually doesn’t last long.
  8. She play bows. Many happy dogs raise their backsides in the air and lower their chests to the ground as an invitation to play with either their favorite human or a doggy friend.
  9. He leans into you. A happy dog will often lean into your hand when you pet him, and lean into or keep contact with your body whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  10. She’s thrilled to see you. Happy dogs are without fail excited to see their human come through the door, even if said human has only stepped outside for a minute to check the weather!

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