Are you asking yourself “is my dog happy?”. Just like humans, animals have emotions. Here are 20 signs that will tell you whether or not your dog is happy and how you can improve their mood!
We all have our days and so do our dogs! Have you ever asked yourself “is my dog happy?” Well, you’re not alone. Just like we need to ensure our needs our met, we need to make sure our dogs is as well. However, how can you tell when your dog is happy or not?
Sometimes, it may feel like you just know that they’re happy, other times it may not be so obvious. Dogs feel emotions very similar to they way we do, unfortunately they can’t express it the same way as us. They display emotion through body language, health and behavior.
How Do Dogs Show Emotion
Dogs have the emotional capacity of a 2 year old child. This means they experience emotions like happiness, fear, sadness and anger. Dogs actually have similar hormone and chemical changes that humans do during shifts of emotion.
Similarly to a 2 year old, dogs lack the vocabulary to express themselves. Additionally, just like a toddler, they use body language and behavior to communicate their emotional state.
Is My Dog Happy? – 20 Physical Signs
Identifying happiness in a dog is a little easier than identifying signs of distress. It is important to consider that dogs are stoic animals, meaning they don’t always show pain or discomfort. However, there are telltale signs that you as an owner can use to understand your pup.
1. Ears Posture
Ear shape varies between breeds, however, happy dogs will have relaxed, at-ease ears. One ear could be cocked up with one loose and floppy or both could be relaxed. When dogs ears are pinned back or stiff looking, it could mean they are showing fear or aggression. When they are pinned forward they are probably displaying interest in something.
2. Relaxed Body
Is my dog happy because their body is soft or relaxed? A tense, tight, or stiff dog is showing that they are less comfortable and maybe even ready to display aggression. A happy dog will have a loose body that is easily moved around.
3. Relaxed, Soft Moth
Happy dogs smile! The mouth is open and some teeth are showing but they are not baring them or curling their lips. However, panting isn’t smiling and can actually be a sign of stress or overheating.
4. Good Behavior
Happy dogs are well behaved dogs. Destructive behavior is a sign of boredom or a lack of mental stimulation. Additionally, separation anxiety is also a cause of destructive behavior.
5. Tail Movement
Rapidly wagging tail will tell you that your pup is happy! When they wag their tails and their whole body wiggles is a sure fire sign of a very happy dog. In general a happy dog will raise their tail. However, if it is too high, they could be over stimulated or agitated. A tail tucked between the back legs is a strong sign of fear.
6. Playtime Behavior
Does your dog enjoy playtime? Dogs slow with age but most happy dogs will enjoy some interaction with other dogs. However, if your dog is unusually quiet or hesitant to engage with other pups, they may not be feeling well.
7. Soft Eyes
Puppy eyes is a real thing, even as dogs get old they display soft eyes to show happiness. Frequent blinks and a soft gaze shows a happy, relaxed dog. Narrowed eyes and a stiff gaze is an indication of aggression. Additionally, wide eyes could mean they are scared.
Not all dogs are food motivated or greedy, but a sudden decrease of appetite could be a sign of an unhappy or sick dog. Moreover, eating other animals poop or things off the street can also be a sign of attention seeking.
9. Body Movement
A body wiggle is a telltale sign of that your dog is happy. There won’t be any tension and their body will be soft or loose. A tense, stiff or tight body is an indication that they are uncomfortable or agitated.
10. Belly Position
When our pups show us their belly or even are belly-up when relaxing, it is a likely sign that you dog is happy. However, if they are showing their belly in a way that looks stiff and their mouth is shut, they could be displaying submission.
11. Sleeping Habits
Healthy and happy dogs sleep for around 16 hours a day. If your dog is restless or isn’t sleeping much, it could be a sign of stress or illness.
12. Behavior Around Other Dogs
Every dog is different and some have preferences. If your dog is social and friendly to most if not all dogs, they are happy. However, some dogs may be warry of new dogs, which isn’t necessarily a sign of unhappiness. If your dog is overly aggressive, it could mean they are stressed or overwhelmed.
13. Hopping Or Jumping
Although this isn’t the best doggy etiquette, a happy dog will jump when they see you or someone they like. Quick, dance-like movements is a common sign of happiness and excitement.
14. Lazy Tongue
Some dogs stick out their tongue when they are in deep relaxation, this is especially common during sleep. They are so calm and tranquil, their tongue flops out.
15. Brow Position
Just like humans, dogs display emotion with their faces. A Smooth brow and wrinkle-free forehead means happy, worry-free dog.
16. Bark Tone
A happy bark often has a high pitch and usually occurs for a short amount of time. A bark can mean many things, sometimes it means fear or anxiety while other times it means aggression and anger. Take a look at their body language while they are barking to identify the emotion they are displaying.
17. Coat Health
A healthy, shiny coat is often an indication of good health. An unhappy or stressed dog may shed a lot or even have dry, flaky skin. Skin problems can also be a sign of illness, check with your vet if you are unsure.
18. Affection Lean In
They way your dog reacts to affection is an efficient way to know if they are happy. Leaning into your hands or by getting close to you is a good sign they are enjoying the affection. Avoiding contact or staying out of reach may mean they need space.
19. Play Bow
Booty up means they are having fun. When a dog is ready to play, they lower their chests and stick their rears up in the air. It is a sign they are inviting you or another dog to play.
20. When They See you
When you come home and walk through the door, is your dog happy to see you? Running up to you, giving you sniffs, wagging tail or wiggling bodies when they see you is an indication they are happy. If they are reluctant to greet you, it might mean they aren’t feeling well.
How To Make Your Dog Even Happier
The most efficient way to ensure your dog is as happy as possible, is by providing plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation. An excellent way to provide stimulation is by purchasing puzzle toys, going for nice walks where they can sniff and play. Additionally, give them a healthy treat every day as well as lots of love and affection.
It is important to remember when you take your dog on a walk, it’s for them. Let them sniff, play and interact with other dogs. Dogs react to our moods as well, if you are upset they will likely feel scared or upset as well. Keeping your dog happy is very similar to how you would keep yourself happy.
Happiness is just one of the many emotions your dog feels. Pay attention to the indicators like body language, behavior and appetite. We all get grumpy from time to time, even the happiest of dogs.