Decoding Dog Body Language

Decoding Dog Body Language

Dogs use unique but precise language to communicate. If you’re a dog enthusiast, you’d know that some of the most common mistakes humans make while communicating with their favorite pooch can be detrimental to them. 

Snarling, tail tucked between the legs, whimpering, and whining is some of the most common ways a dog lets you know something isn’t right. More often than not, these behaviors result from the human’s inability to understand their body language. 

So enough with the melancholy tone of the article and enough with the misunderstandings between humans and dogs. Decoding dog body language write-up is here to help you understand your dog better, the subtle adjustments, and much more, to establish a symbiotic relationship where everyone is calm, healthy, and happy. 

You wouldn’t believe the wonders a little understanding of dog behavior can do, so let us decode dog body language step by step without further delay. 

The Language of the Tail

When you plot a dog body language chart, the communication of the tail always stands first. A calm & relaxed dog always has its tail pointing downward and looks visibly calm, and this is when it is ideal for you to pet them. 

It is ill-advised to pet a dog in any other state because dog language dictates that it is simply not ready to be petted. 

With that said, let us take a look at the language of the tail, point by point. 

  1. Tail at a 45-degree angle, wagging, along with the tongue out usually means happy. 
  2. Tail is upright along with the tongue out, and the front body is flat to the floor means ready to play. 
  3. Tail down, ears down, and head down usually mean submissive or timid.
  4. Tail down, lying flat on the floor with the ears pushed back, means he’s to be left alone. 
  5. Tail down, ears pushed back, googly eyes, and sometimes shivering means anxious or scared. 
  6. Tail down, growling, ears pushed back, along with a pointy straight posture, means he is afraid and is ready to fight. 
  7. Tail parallel to the floor, ears erect, and sniffing means alert. 
  8. Tail upright along with the ears erect usually means wary and unsure. 
  9. Tail parallel to the floor, along with a straight body language, means he’s stalking.
  10. Tail erect, raised head, along with ears pushed back, which means he is mad and ready to fight. 

These are some basic canine communication you can learn swiftly, but the tail says more than this.

Tale of the Wagging Tail

One of the most common misconceptions of a dog wagging his tail is that he’s happy but assuming this is the fastest way to get bit. Wagging the tail simply implies that the dog is in anything but a calm, submissive state – a state of emotional excitement. 

The said emotion could be happy, nervous, guarded, insecure, frustrated, agitated, or worse. To judge the state of emotion of a dog, all you need to do is observe the speed of the wagging and the direction.

Let us now learn what different variations of wagging of the tail means:

  1. The faster the wagging of the tail, the more excited the dog is. 
  2. Slow, long, side-to-side wagging of the tail means the dog is relaxed. 
  3. Slow, long, side-to-side wagging of the tail and the wagging of the whole body also mean relaxed. 
  4. Twitchy, faster tail wagging means that the dog is on alert, and he is on guard. 
  5. Wagging the tail to the right often means he feels positive. 
  6. Wagging the tail to the left often means he is faced with something negative. 
  7. Circular or helicopter propellers like the tail wagging unequivocally mean the dog is happy. 

Along with the tail, memorize the acronym TEMP, which elaborates on the Tail, Ears, Eyes, Mouth, and Posture. In your dog behavior training, you can easily memorize this and communicate with any dog in due course.

Posture and the Expression

The body posture of a dog directly correlates with the tail. Reading a dog’s posture is imperative to learn accurate pet communication by exuding the mood, intention, and others. 


  1. Dogs hunch over toward the floor when they are scared or stressed. 
  2. Making himself as small as possible, curled up, with the ears back and tail between the legs means that the dog wants to tell you he means no harm.
  3. Lying on his back, expecting belly rubs, means that he trusts you and that he is relaxed. 
  4. Unsolicited urination may mean he is anxious or stressed. 
  5. Bodyweight shifted to the front along with a stiff tail means the dog has offensive intentions, 
  6. Bodyweight shifted to the front, and a wagging tail and tongue out meant he wanted to play. 
  7. If a dog pets you with his paw, it means he’s trying to seek your attention or is needy. 

On the other hand, reading the facial expressions of dogs is also important. A lot is conveyed over a facial expression because dogs have similar expressions as humans. 

  1. Dogs yawn when they are stressed.
  2. They yawn to calm themselves down and their owners. 
  3. They smack their lips when they’re anxious. 
  4. Dogs can smile, which often looks like growling, but a C shape forms in the corner of the lips if it’s a friendly smile. 
  5. They growl to fend off attacks or intruders.
  6. They make googly eyes when they’re confused or anxious. 
  7. They have a soft gaze when they’re happy or calm.
  8. Dogs have a hard or cold gaze when they feel negative or cornered.
  9. Dogs avoid eye contact when they’re guilty or stressed. 
  10. Called the ‘Whale Eye,’ when the white inside the eyes is seen, the dog shows you that he’s anxious or stressed about the situation. 

These were decoded body language, but remember, establish trust and respect before showering your dogs with love; if not, he could easily become insecure and defensive. This will lead to barking, tugging on the leash, and all the other issues. 

Before petting a dog, notice if he’s calm and pets him silently. Petting an excited dog can make him even more excited, and this often leads to instability and unlearning basic behavior training.

Waggle Pet Camera

Speaking of training, Waggle Pet Camera is a gadget that can be your dog’s best friend. You can train your dog remotely by tossing them treats after following your command over two-way audio. 

You can watch your dog obey your command and take the treat in 1080p resolution, even in the dark. 

Equipped with night vision and connected to the WiFi, you can not only monitor your dog but keep him engaged, entertained, and trained at the same time. So without delay, order a WaggleCam for your dog today. 


  • Why does my dog look at me with googly eyes and sadness?

If you think your dog is sad, you most likely own a pug, a boxer, or a basset hound. Mostly specific to the breed, dogs look sadly at you if they need some extra food, or attention or want to go on a walk outside. If the sadness is followed by whimpering and weak body language, it could either mean he’s in pain or seeking attention for a different reason, so do not take this lightly. 

  • Why does my dog pull when we go for walks?

Possibly the most understated body language trait, your dog pulls the leash and tugs because he doesn’t respect you enough. They consider themselves to be leading you instead of you walking them, which inadvertently leads to barking at pedestrians & other dogs around. 

  • Is it true that dogs understand human body language?

Yes, studies have proven that dogs can pick up on human nonverbal cues better than young kids and chimpanzees. Don’t be surprised if your dog understands your hand gestures better than your words because mamma dogs communicate with the puppies with body language and not words.

  • Why does my dog stare at me while he’s pooping?

Dogs sometimes stare at you while pooping because they want your approval or assurance to carry on with the deed. It is also said that dogs stare while pooping because they’re vulnerable for those few minutes and rely on you to protect them. 

  • Is it true that dogs communicate with each other?

It is evidently true that dogs communicate with each other with their body language, energy, and subtle signals other dogs instinctively pick up on. Recent studies have also discovered that different kinds of bark also carry messages, but it is still proven what they precisely mean.

  • Is my dog anxious or stressed?

If your dog seems timid, isn’t eating his food properly, seems lethargic, or showcases other traits, as discussed in the earlier part of this article, he is surely anxious or stressed about something. Try to figure out the reason behind this and cheer him up.