As pet parents, we all want to raise beaming and smiley-eyed dogs. But answering the question "Is my dog happy?" can be challenging unless you speak dog dialect. The good news is that you can learn a lot about how happy and secure your canine pal feels by observing the dog's body language.
There's no doubt that every breed has different needs. Even an individual pup's character, experiences, and environment can affect the way they interact with the world. Perhaps your dog has been acting super chill lately, or maybe they don't eat as much as other dogs the same size. Either could be a natural phase your dog is going through - like aging - or it could be signs of a dog feeling worried or scared.
If you're wondering, "How do I know if my dog is happy?" you're certainly not alone. In this guide, we're going to look at the physical and behavioral signs of a happy dog, as well as some tell-tale indications your pupper may need some extra care, so you and pup can both get your smiles back in no time.
How Dogs Express Emotions
Dogs share a similar emotional capacity to a two-and-a-half-year-old, meaning they can experience feelings like joy, fear, playfulness, and anger. During emotional shifts, dogs even move through similar chemical shifts to humans! Also similar to a young child, dogs lack the vocabulary to express their emotions, though their feelings can be understood by the way the dog handles its body.
Dogs require physical activity, playtime, rest, and a balanced diet to ensure that their health, happiness, and the dog's behavior are all top-notch. For the best dog treats, accessories, and grooming products to support your happy pooch, check out the chic and fun collection at Bitch New York.
Physical Indications of a Very Happy Dog
Like people, dogs communicate a lot through their body language. And while there's no doubt that our canine friends' have completely different anatomies to humans, the physical signs that your pup is happy are not dissimilar to ours. Here are a couple of things to watch out for in your dog's body language to determine how healthy they are overall.
It's well known that a wagging tail indicates that your pup is in a good mood. Though the tail wag is not always straightforward. As a general rule, when they feel happy, dogs wag their tail in a way that causes their whole body to wriggle from side to side because their body feels relaxed.
If your pup has a stiff body as they wag their tail, it may be a sign that they are anxious or alert. For example, this behavior is commonly exhibited when two dogs meet at the dog park, as they decide whether they want to be friends or not.
Relaxed, floppy ears are a great way to tell if your dog is happy. This is an indication that their emotions and bodies are feeling contented and unworried. Excitable pricked-up ears may mean that your pup is alert during playtime, and this can also be taken as a good sign but it depends on the context and situation.
Dogs have a more powerful sense of hearing than humans do, and in some cases pricked ears indicate that they have heard something outside of our hearing range, and they are alert playfully or anxiously. Additionally, when dogs slick their ears back to the sides of their head, it's an indication that they are listening for something. This could be a sign of aggression or anxiety.
When doggos feel scared or aggressive, their mouth and body will often be stiff. On the other hand, when a dog is moving fluidly and confidently through its space, you can trust it is in high spirits. Here are a few things to look out for in Fido's body language.
- Jaw is relaxed
- The mouth is slightly open
- Teeth are not barred
- The dog's eyes are soft
- A relaxed or wagging tail
Behavioral Indications of a Happy Pup
Of course, dogs may feel playful or mischievous from time to time. Behavioral indicators tend to be something that comes up consistently, rather than a one-off incidence. Early identification of your dog's normal behavioral patterns will help to determine changes more easily if issues do arise.
Is Fito a good boy? Can he or she listen to instructions and follow basic commands? This is a sign that you have a well-trained dog and a healthy relationship between the two of you. When your pup is well-behaved, it means that there are no circumstances in their immediate environment that cause them to perceive threat or harm. Generally in the absence of harmful situations, your pup will feel at peace.
Dogs that exemplify destructive comportment are usually bored, unwell, or poorly trained. If your pupper is displaying naughty behavior it may be a sign that their physical needs for play, exercise, and nutrition are not being met. Alternatively, they may be craving mental stimulation.
Super happy doggos are often very playful, which is why we love them so much! It's natural for dogs to want to play and get up to mischief. Therefore, if your pup is not feeling carefree enough to relax and be playful, it may indicate that they feel worried or anxious about something, or that they're in pain.
A great way to improve your dog's happiness is by engaging in active play with them with a variety of interactive toys to satisfy their inherent needs for connection and exploration.
If you notice a sudden drop in your dog’s appetite, it may be an early indication that something is wrong. When dogs are anxious or in pain, their appetite will often decrease. Alternatively, nervous dogs will sometimes hoard food, which increases their appetite overall.
Appetites may increase or decrease with fluctuating exercise levels, or it could be an indication that doggo simply doesn't like the brand of food they're given. To keep your pup in the best nutritional health possible, be sure to buy dog food with high-quality ingredients. Bitch New York offers a plethora of delicious, cute dog treats with only raw, chemical-free ingredients Your dog will love you for it!
Plenty of Sleep
Dogs require more sleep than humans do. Happy adult dogs can sleep for up to 16 hours a day! Just like humans, illness and emotional tension can cause a dog to lose sleep or oversleep. This can affect the overall well-being of dogs at any age.
To help ensure your pup has every opportunity to rest and replenish, get them a super comfy and soft dog bed with plenty of warm blankets to retreat to when they are feeling worried or anxious.
Lying Belly Up
Want to know how to tell if your dog is happy the easy way? Lying belly up is a dead giveaway. A wriggling dog showing its belly is a vulnerable position, and it means they trust and feel safe in their environment.
Give them a belly rub to show them how much you care! It's also a great time to show them some extra love and give them a brush over their coat to keep it healthy and looking sharp.
Dogs love to bark when they are happy! It’s important to learn the character of your dog's bark, and listen out for the different types of sounds your furry friend makes to understand whether their barking may be an indication that they don't feel happy.
Usually, when a dog wants attention, its bark becomes high-pitched and yappy. Sick and scared dogs don’t tend to draw attention to themselves and may fall abnormally quiet. If a dog is acting aggressively or lowers its bark to a growl, it's a sign they are becoming angry or territorial.
Every pet owner wants to have a happy dog, and knowing how to tell if your dog is happy is not as easy as simply asking them. To take good care of your dog, you need to spend plenty of time with them and get to know their character well enough to read when something is wrong.
The indications of a happy pooch we've covered in this article will help you to better understand your little love's overall wellbeing, and some simple steps you can take to keep them thriving over the long term.
If you're looking for some extra ideas to keep your dog happy, Bitch New York has got you covered. We have a gorgeous range of leads, accessories, natural treats, toys, and grooming products to ensure you and your pup stay relaxed, rested, playful, and cool.