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Doggie Body Language Translated for Humans

You and your canine companion are so close, you know what every tail wag, eye squint, bark, and head turn means, right? Before you answer, read this “translation guide” that tells you the real meaning of your pet's posture, sounds, and expressions.

Body Language

Translation

I'm standing as tall as possible, with erect tail and ears, chest thrust forward, with raised hair on my neck and back.
I'm feeling aggressive or brave. Don't mess with me, stranger!
I'm trying to make myself look small and puppy-like, staying low to the ground, and rolling on my back. I may even pass a little urine.
I'm feeling weak and submissive. Please don't hurt me.
I'm wagging my tail in a loose and free way.
I'm feeling frisky and friendly. Let's play!
My tail wag is stiff, slow, and in line with my back.
I'm angry! Approach me with caution.
My tail is clamped low over my backside.
I'm afraid. Something has spooked me.
My ears are pricked up high, like antenna.
I've heard, smelled, or noticed something that demands my attention. I'm in "alert mode!"
My eyes are half-closed, like a squint.
I'm feeling pleasure…or submissive.
My eyes are open wide, wide, wide!
Watch out, I may attack if provoked!
I'm intensely staring into the eyes of another dog.
I'm top dog here!
Look, I'm raising my front paw and barking to get your attention.
It's playtime! What are you waiting for? Let's grab a ball and hit the dog park!
This is just a general guide, of course, and canine body language is a complex and profound form of communication. Sometimes you have to look at more than one part of your dog's body to understand what he's really trying to tell you. But as you scrutinize your dog closely, remember not to stare at him in the eyes for too long. He may consider this a form of aggression on your part.