How do you know if your dog is happy? Is it the way they snuggle up close, they wag their tail, or how they follow you happily around the house when you come home? If you’re like me, you probably just know your dog is happy, but you can’t quite explain how you know.
Dogs feel emotions similar to how us humans do, but they can’t express them like we do. They show their feelings through body posture, behavior, energy level and even health. And believe it or not, there are tell tale signs that indicate a dog's happiness.
In general, a happy dog will have relaxed body language. These are some of the physical signs of a happy dog:
A soft, open mouth
Relaxed posture, with a raised head, relaxed tail, and confident stance
A energetic tail wag ( Quite the opposite of a dog standing stiff with a tautly waving tail may be showing alertness or a tucked tail showing nervousness.)
Rolling over to show their belly
Making a “play bow,” with their rear in the air, tail waving, and chest lowered to the ground as an invitation to play
Of course, every dog is different, and body composition may vary. But in general, a happy dog will appear comfortable and at ease.
In addition to body language cues, there are behavioral signs of happiness in dogs:
Happy dogs are generally not destructive when left along. Destructive behavior can be a sign of anxiety or stress.
They’re happy to play, take a walk, or go for a ride in the car. If your dog is loses interest in play time, they may be feeling unwell, in pain, or depressed.
They have a healthy appetite, which indicates feeling physically well and emotionally content. A decrease in appetite is usually one of the first signs of illness or unhappiness.
They seek out affection. Happy dogs will lean into your hand or body. Happy dogs love body contact!
They’re excited to see you when you walk in the door.
Factors like age, breed, and health can impact your dog’s behavior. And of course, your dog’s baseline personality plays a role in how they express happiness!