If you’re anything like me, you want to be sure that your dog is happy, all the time. After all, you love him, and his happiness is foremost in your mind. But how can you be really sure that your dog is happy? Sometimes, it almost seems as though you have to be psychic. Does your dog’s tail wagging mean that he’s happy? Is he following you around all the time because he’s happy and wants to be with you, or is it because he’s anxious?
Let’s face it; we don’t’ have a common language, and sometimes we have to try to interpret behavior to find out if our dog is happy.
The following are 20 signs of a happy dog.
1. Relaxed Body
Take a look at how your dog is carrying himself – is his body relaxed? Does he wiggle when he sees you? Or does he seem a bit stiff? If your dog is carrying himself stiffly, he might be stressed. If he’s all wiggles and cuddles, it’s good.
2. The Eyes
Most dogs that are happy have relaxed eyes, blink quite a bit, and display a soft gaze. If the dog’s eyes are narrowed, though, and he’s staring straight at you, it probably means that he’s not all that happy. If the whites of the eyes are showing, he’s probably scared.
3. He’s Smiling!
Most of the time, a smile is one of the best signs of a happy dog. A “smile” occurs when the dog shows his teeth, but doesn’t bare them. He’ll pant a bit, and hold his lips in a relaxed position.
4. Ears Look Good
You know that dogs have different ear positions – upright, down, and even flat on the head. One of the signs of a happy dog is that the ears look relaxed. In floppy-eared dogs, the ears are down. In dogs of a breed that typically have “standing” ears, they’re upright. Ears that are pinned back, though, typically suggest that the dog is not in a happy place. Something’s going on, and the dog isn’t feeling good about it.
5. No Wrinkles
You know how, when you’re ticked off about something, you tend to furrow your brow? Dogs do that too. Unless your dog is of a typically “wrinkly” breed like a Shar Pei, or a Pug, then you should assume that “brow wrinkling” means that your dog is not happy.
6. Tail Wagging
Most of the time, when a dog wags his tail, it means that he’s happy. However, if the dog is wagging his tail stiffly, and the rest of his body doesn’t seem to be coming in line, it might mean that something is going on that is making the dog unhappy.
Look for a loose, swishy tail wagging. That usually means that the dog is feeling pretty chill. If the “wag” doesn’t go up through the dog’s whole body, though, there could be something else at work.
7. How The Dog Carries His Tail
A happy dog, as previously suggested, will wag his tail and relax his entire body. A happy dog might also raise his tail, but if he raises it really high, that might mean that he’s agitated. And if a dog tucks his tail under his body, he’s scared and should not be approached.
8. Dog Loves to Play
Happy dogs always love playtime. As a dog ages, though, he might be less willing to play. It doesn’t mean that he’s not happy; it just means that he’s slowing down.
9. Dancing and Skipping
Happy dogs frequently bounce all over the place, looking as though they’re dancing or skipping. These are quick movements that make the dog look like he’s bouncing.
10. Dog is Not Destructive
All puppies are going to chew and engage in destructive behavior. Most of the time, they grow out of it. If an adult dog is chewing and being destructive, though, it could be an indication that he’s bored or suffering from separation anxiety. Most of the time, a happy dog isn’t going to be destructive. If your dog is, then maybe he needs more time with you.
11. Dog Has a Good Appetite
One of the signs of a happy dog is a good appetite. A happy dog will enjoy his food, but not be ravenous or engage in “recreational” eating. If your dog suddenly loses his appetite, or decides that he has to eat anything and everything, this could indicate a problem.
12. Dog Leans In
If your dog leans in when you touch him, it’s an indication that he’s enjoying the contact, and he’s happy. If he wants more space, or won’t let you touch him at all, then that is not one of the signs of a happy dog. You need to find out what’s wrong, and react accordingly.
13. Dog Rears Up
This is one of the best signs of a happy dog! If your dog bows down and barks at you, that means that he wants to play.
14. Belly Up
This is another of the best signs of a happy dog – your dog rolls over, shows you his tummy, and asks for a rub! If he wriggles, it’s that much better!
15. Lolling Tongue
If your dog sticks his tongue outside his mouth when he’s sleeping, it means that he feels so safe and so comfortable, he doesn’t need to bother keeping his tongue in his mouth.
16. Dog Sleeps a Lot
Dogs really do sleep a lot – usually as much as 16 hours in any given day. If your dog is sleeping more than that, it could indicate a problem. For that matter, sleeping less than 16 hours could also be problematic. Keep an eye on how much your dog sleeps, and if anything looks out of the ordinary, consult your veterinarian.
Usually, a happy dog will have a high-pitched bark, but not one that sounds agitated. If your dog seems to be barking a lot, look at the signals he’s giving – is he really upset, or just a little more vocal than usual? Don’t’ assume that there’s a problem – look at the body signals your dog is offering.
18. The Coat
One of the signs of a happy dog can be the coat. A healthy coat usually means a healthy dog, so make sure that your dog’s skin isn’t flaking and that there aren’t other signs of skin problems. Shedding isn’t usually an indication of a skin disorder, but it’s still something that you should consider.
19. Reaction to Other Dogs
I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily like all the people I meet. Dogs are no different. If your dog doesn’t like all the other dogs he meets, that isn’t likely a biggie. If he just flat out doesn’t like other dogs at all, though, you might have to work on socialization. It’s always best if your dog gets along with other animals.
If your dog gets along well with other animals, that’s usually a pretty good indication that he’s happy.
20. Reaction to You
Of course, the most important indication of your dog’s happiness is how he reacts to you. If he accepts you as the alpha in your relationship, loves to go out for walks with you, responds well to your training efforts, and loves to snuggle up with you at the end of the day, then those are all signs of a happy dog, and there’s nothing better than sharing your life with a happy dog.
So, those are the 20 signs of a happy dog.
The Final Word
So, what are the signs of a happy dog? It’s a dog who loves you, wants to do what you ask, and tries to please you. Nothing much more than that.
Work with your dog. Help him to become the companion you want. It’s worth the effort, believe me.