Reading Dog Body Language

Posted on October 12, 2016 by Michael Moll

It is important that we know how to read dog's body language. This can help us to determine if it is safe for us or our canine companions to approach another dog. Below are some helpful descriptions of dog body language. 


dog body language


  1. Ears up 
  2. Head high 
  3. Mouth open
  4. Loose stance 
  5. Tail down and relaxed

Playful and Excited

  1. Pupils dilated
  2. Ears up
  3. Mouth open (tongue may be out)
  4. Front end lowered (like a bow)
  5. Tail up 
  6. Looks like they are ready to run


  1. Eyes wide 
  2. Ears forward
  3. Smooth nose 
  4. Tail high
  5. Body tense
  6. Mouth closed
  7. Slight forward lean

Dominant  Aggressive    

  1. Ears forward
  2. Nose wrinkled
  3. Lips curled
  4. Teeth visible 
  5. Mouth open and C-shaped
  6. Stiff stance
  7. Hackles raised
  8. Tail raised

Fearful Aggressive  

  1. Ears back 
  2. Head can be raised or slightly raised
  3. Pupils dilated
  4. Nose wrinkled
  5. Lips curled 
  6. Hackles raised
  7. Body lowered
  8. Tail tucked (or raised if just being aggressive)


  1. Yawning 
  2.  Lip licking 
  3. Brief body freezing
  4. Head turned 
  5. Shaking
  6. Drooling
  7. Lack of focus
  8. Sweaty paws 


  1. Eye contact brief
  2. Ears back 
  3. Mouth closed 
  4. Body lowered and crouched
  5. Tail down


  1. Eyes partially closed
  2. Head turned to avoid eye contact
  3. Ears flat and back
  4. Rolls onto back
  5. Tail tucked 
  6. May pee 
  7. Corners of mouth back

Before you approach any strange dog, look for signs of relaxed or playful body language and always ask the owner if it is ok to approach.

Source: Modern Dog
Source (Image): Dog Listener
Source (Image): Modern Dog

Posted in Helpful Tips