Dogs can’t communicate using words so they use their ears, mouth nose and tail – as well as the rest of their body to tell us what they are thinking and how they are feeling.

The real key to understanding what your dog is trying to tell you is to read the whole body rather than just individual messages. Here is a very simplified dog body language guide that you can use to determine what your dog is trying to communicate to you!

Dominant Aggression

Dominant and aggressive behaviour is characterised by exposed teeth and intense eye contact, with ears forward, tail raised and bristled. This dog is exhibiting extreme confidence and is telling you that he is in charge and could attack.

Fear Aggression

A dog with his whiskers thrust forward who growls and bears his teeth, often with his tail between his legs generally senses danger. His whole body screams fear.

Happy & Relaxed

Often the tail is wagging the ears are up but not forward, and the dog has a loose stance. You can almost see the smile on his face!


Head and body are low and avoids eye contact. Often a submissive dog will roll entirely on his back; this behaviour communicates complete surrender.

The Play Bow

Bending up and down on the front legs and ears up, mouth open – it’s an invitation to play, especially when a dog has been ignored.

Step into the mind of your dog, Understand your dog is an animal with inherent instincts and pack behaviour he would have learnt some things along the way but one thing is for sure, the better we communicate with our dogs the more joy we will get from them.

  • A dog that constantly jumps on visitors isn’t just being friendly. He is asserting his dominance.
  • A dog that licks lovingly is exhibiting his lower rank.

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