Tricks to Understanding Your Pet’s Body Language and Behavior

Posted on

A dog with eyes wide open

When you look into your pet's eyes, do you ever wonder what he/she is thinking? What is happening inside of that beautiful head of theirs that you love so much? The language barrier doesn't keep the love from flowing between you two. But it would be nice to know for sure how their train of thought unravels for sure. It would make things so much easier! The good news is that there is a way that doesn't include numerous "translator" apps. Animal body language is a pretty accurate indicator of their true opinions. If you learn to interpret it correctly, you'll break all the barriers between you. Here are some tricks to understanding your pet's body language and behavior.


Distinct bad emotions from good ones

Seem simple enough? However, unlike humans that laugh or cry or yell to express their emotions (plus have 42 muscles for all the various facial expressions), body language in animals can sometimes be quite tricky to catch. The most significant obstacles are situations that are funny for humans but can be traumatizing for animals. Unfortunately, you can see a lot of these bad examples on social media, where people often make viral TikToks and memes out of animal discomfort.


A dog with sunglasses represents the importance of understanding your pet’s body language and behavior.
Caption: Your pet doesn’t want to be a TikTok star.

Look at every part of them

When your dog wiggles their tail, that must mean they're happy, right? Not quite. In order to make such an assumption, you need to look at them as a whole. True, it is often an indicator of joy and happiness (when you're waving with their favorite treat, no doubt), but it can also be a sign of nervousness. Look closely at their face. Are they licking their nose a lot? Nose licking is a defensive mechanism against dryness since the stress dries their moisturized little muzzles.


Pay attention to the posture

Dogs typically freeze their bodies as they analyze the situation and determine whether to flee or fight. If your dog is hunching over or trying to make himself smaller, it is likely anxious or submissive. It's not uncommon for a dog to act this way when confronted by another, more dominant dog. On the other hand, a proudly erect posture might be seen as a show of aggression or assertiveness.


They do tell you a lot with their mouth

You might think that our pet must be fatigued if it's yawning. However, excessive yawning in a dog may also indicate anxiety. Lip licking, tongue flicking, and drooling are all behaviors that many dogs engage in quite regularly. These can mean a lot of things.

For example, if your puppy is licking its nose every now and then and comes to you waving its tail nervously – it might be a sign they are dehydrated. So, make sure to offer them their favorite bowl with water before you take your examination further. Nevertheless, an increased frequency of any of these behaviors might indicate anxiety or stress, so make sure to catch that as early as possible.


Take the warning signs seriously

With the mouth closed, the wearer shows that they are attentive and ready to take action. But, when a dog bares its teeth and snarls, it usually warns you (or another dog or animal) not to get any closer. When a dog wants to show aggression, it'll typically pull its lips back to expose its fangs and crinkle its nose.

The dog is feeling threatened if it snaps or nips at you as a warning. It's normal for a puppy to chew on things, but you should start training it early on not to. Dogs who bite and hold indicate an aggressive disposition and may be dangerous. To be sure you and your dog are safe, talk to your vet or a qualified dog trainer.


If tails could speak

If your dog's tail is tucked between its legs or tucked low, it might indicate:

  • anxiety
  • fear
  • discomfort


When a dog raises its tail, it shows excitement or confidence. As said previously, tail wagging can signify happiness, but it doesn't have to be. Your furry fellow is likely content if it is at ease or enthusiastic. You should proceed with caution if it barks excessively, has a strained expression, and seems protective.

A dog with a high tail.
Caption: Paying attention to the tail is crucial for understanding your pet’s body language and behavior.

Treat your pet with kindness

Even with knowing all of these, the language barrier still exists. And, naturally, you might misinterpret some of the signs. However, even when that happens, you need to make sure you learn from your mistakes and show your love for your pet as much as possible. They show us so much love and support and always try to sniff out our emotions from the air. Try doing the same for them.


They return the favor big time

Learning a pet's body language might be challenging. But, when you encounter an obstacle, remember how good your furry friend is to you. When times get dark, they can be your little ray of sunshine. For example, many studies show that cuddling with your pet reduces stress and anxiety. In fact, experienced professionals in addiction treatment say that pets have multiple good effects on their owner's addiction recovery. Meaning, if you have that kind of a problem, your pet can help you with recovery by reducing stress and anxiety that can trigger relapses. The least you can do for your cuddly guardian angel is learn their body expressions so you won't stress and frustrate them with the lack of understanding.

A dog and a person looking out the window
Caption: Treat your ray of sunshine with love and kindness.

Why is understanding your pet's body language and behavior important?


Seeing the subtle signs that your pet is showing you is vital to better communication. And good communication is crucial for good training, which is immensely important for correcting bad behavior and rewarding discipline. If you pass this language barrier by learning tricks to understand your pet's body language and behavior, you and your pet will be able to move the mountains together. Of course, you don't have to do it all alone. When in doubt, ask for an expert's help so you'll be one hundred percent positive you're not misinterpreting anything.

✍🏼 Natalie Taylor

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment