As a pup parent, it’s necessary to know how your dog communicates their emotional state. After all, you never want to get into a situation where your furry friend is feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Dogs can express themselves verbally through growling, barking, or whining. Another way to understand your pup’s emotional state is by studying their body language.
For instance, tail wagging can indicate a few things. According to the American Kennel Club, when your pup wags their tail it “means that the dog is emotionally aroused,” which is not always a good thing. Basically, your pooch is either super excited or anxious.
If you can not determine how your dog is feeling through situational context, check out how their tail is positioned. AKC noted that research published in Current Biology found “that dogs tend to wag more to the right when they feel positive about something, like interacting with their owner. Tails wagged more to the left when dogs faced something negative.” Similarly, if your “dog’s tail spins in a circle… that’s a happy wag.”
You will also want to look where your dog’s tail is pointed. For instance, pups who have downward-pointing tails are most likely “feeling fear and stress,” while “dogs with their tails held up like a flag are feeling confident, perhaps even aggressive.”
Your dog will also let you know if they are distressed by “hunch[ing] toward the ground” or “exposing their tummy.” Conversely, if your canine companion is in a playful mood, they will pounce into a “play bow” position.
According to the Animal Foundation, looking at your dog’s ears can also help you figure out their emotional state. Dogs who feel content will “relax their ears in a position that is natural to them.” However, if your pup is “feeling aggressive or dominant,” they will “raise their erect/tense ears higher.”