Reading Dog Body Language

Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking when he’s interacting with another dog?  Sometimes it can be frustrating not knowing whether to step in when your dog is interacting with other dogs, or if you should just let them do their thing. You’d be amazed how many people misread their dog’s behavior, and yet reading dog body language is actually pretty easy when you know how!

Reading Dog Body Language

Understanding a dog’s body language meaning as well as how to understand a dog’s behavior really just boils down to knowing the tell-tale signs. Once you know what they are, you’ll know, for example, if your dog is happy playing or if he’s feeling scared or distressed.  Dogs can read each other without any effort.  It comes naturally to them.  But for humans, it’s not so easy.  It’s up to us to learn the different body language signals dogs use.

Check Out Doggy Dan’s Demonstration Video Later in This Article

Dog's Body Language MeaningBasic Dog Language Gestures

Below are some of the key gestures that you can look for to understand what your dog is thinking which I learned about on a website called, The Online Dog Trainer – run by world-famous dog trainer, “Doggy Dan.”  The website consists of more than 250 videos in which Doggy Dan demonstrates training methods for every issue you can think of.  At the end of this article you’ll see a video by Doggy Dan where you’ll get to see all the body language signals I’ll talk about in this article.  You can see my review of The Online Dog Trainer HERE.

dog body language meanings with other dogs5 Dog Body Language Meanings

1.  The Head Over – Placing their head over the back of another dog’s neck.  This is one of the most common ways a dog will attempt to assert his dominance over another dog. It is neither good nor bad. Some dogs, however, will resist it if they are not happy being dominated. A dog who is not happy with this will definitely let the other dog know!

2.  Returning To Play – A dog returning to play more with another dog.  This is a sign that suggests a dog is happy to play. Often this simple behavior is overlooked by dog owners. Many times a dog may look like they are not enjoying things as they are being dominated and pushed around, but most times the dog is actually very happy and will run back for more!

Reading Dog Body Language3.  Lifting One Paw In The Air – The dog stands still on three legs.  This is a fairly submissive gesture that says, “I am submissive and nonthreatening.”  The other dog may react in a number of ways, but this is generally a good sign.

4.  Hackles Up – The hair on the dog’s back goes up.  Very often people think that this automatically means that the dog is being aggressive or going to be aggressive.  However, it can also just be excitement. It does mean that the dog is very alert, but this can be because they just love playing with other dogs. Keep an eye on your dog and don’t panic.

5.  360 Degree Spins – The dog completes a complete spin.  The dog spinning almost certainly indicates that he is very happy and is trying to encourage play activity. When a dog turns their back on another dog, it shows that they are relaxed and not scared.

Dog's Body Language MeaningFor More Information

There are so many little things to look for – some more obvious than others. One of the best places to learn how to read dog body language is Doggy Dan’s website The Online Dog Trainer. Dan even offers a 3 Day $1 trial of the site that YOU can take advantage of, so I suggest the next thing you do today is take a look inside the site! This video website is an excellent source of learning not only about how to understand your dog’s behavior, but also how to stop  unwanted behavior and train dogs and puppies.

online dog trainer

Here is just one fantastic example of his work, demonstrating the above dog behaviors and many more:

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Thank you for visiting my website.  I donate 10% my earnings to animal charities.  You can see a list of the charities I donate to here.  If you like this website, please share it with your friends and family.  Thank you!  Debra

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8 thoughts on “Reading Dog Body Language”

  1. great website , lots of useful information avialable. some great links to good products for pets. lovely use of images and video. easy on the eye.

    only bad thing to say is the drop menus are a little clustered could do with a little clean up so its easier to read.

  2. This is such a fascinating post because I just love studying both human and dog body language. Great tips on reading some basic dog signs and that video was just precious.

    Loved seeing Lorenzo court that formerly nervous female hahaha. Many people don’t realize shepards often play with their teeth and when they rough house, some think they are fighting and I have to keep telling them to let them play!

    1. I enjoy this stuff too. You’re right about the shepherds. Our family had several over the years when I was a kid and my favorite thing about them was that I could rough house with them!

  3. I am a total animal lover. We have three dogs and have often gone to the local dog park. I found the video example very interesting. I have seen all of these behaviors at the park. It really is very important to know what the body language of a dog means. If you don’t it is easy to miss the tell-tale signs of aggression from other dogs. Some dogs just do not socialize well with others. They have a separate area where those dogs can play. You can almost spot the dogs coming in that really need to be separated from the rest of the dog population. They carry themselves very differently and more aggressively. I think I will check out these videos.

    1. I agree it’s important to know the signs because it’s very useful in preventing a fight. I had a little mini doxy who was a scrapper – she’d always start fights!

  4. Thanks for helping me understand these dog behaviors better. I feel pretty well connected with my own dog, but have always had a hard time understanding others. This has stressed me out on a number of occasions, and I admit my dog doesn’t get to play with others as much as he should because of it. I do have a question about one particular behavior that I didn’t see here. When a dog lays down on his front paws with his rear still in the air and barks, what does that mean? Our neighbor’s dog does it a lot!

    1. That sounds to me like a typical “let’s play!” behavior. I have a little poodle that lives down the street from me and whenever he sees me coming, he slaps his front paws down, puts his little hiney in the air…and I get on the grass and play with him! It’s a very cute behavior. 🙂

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