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Reading Your Puppy’s Body Language

Learning a little about your puppy’s psychology is the most crucial thing you can do for them. You can live happily and harmoniously with your dog if you understand their psychology well. By being able to read their body language, you are well on your way to getting to know your dog a little more. But how do you understand your puppy’s body language?

Your puppy’s expression will reveal a lot about their emotional state, including whether they are scared, worried, excited or playful. The gestures they make are vital for us to understand them better.

Puppy Psychology: Learning About Their Body Language

Even young puppies communicate with their owners and they are able to express themselves by using their body language. Dogs are particularly adept at reading body language, and this nonverbal communication conveys so many messages. Your dog’s keen observation can give the impression that it is psychic, it always hides when a bath is coming, but in reality, it simply responds to nonverbal cues you might not even be aware you are giving off. As a result, when you chastise your puppy for stealing your socks while grinning, the puppy interprets your gesture as an amusement rather than punishment and responds as such. It becomes an expert at interpreting your actions, and you can train your dog to do the same.

Relationships are facilitated by canine body language, which gives dogs a means of getting along with one another and their family members. The entire canine body, from nose to tail, is used in silent canine communication. Its posture, facial expression, and tail’s position and motion all give away the animal’s identity.

Puppy Dog Eyes

Puppies’ expressive eyes say a lot. Your dog may squint and moan with pleasure when its ears are scratched, and its eyelids may droop as a sign of happiness.

Puppies on guard keep their eyes wide open. They may act in this way when they are anxious or afraid. An unwavering gaze indicates aggression and assertiveness. Turning away from someone may be done to end a fight or may be a sign of anxiety.

When a dog is extremely frightened or agitated, the pupils of their eyes may dilate widely as their body is thrown into fight or flight mode. This can also happen when they are aggressive. A strange dog should not be looked at directly. It might perceive that as an aggressive stance and feel threatened, in which case it might challenge you back violently.

Mouth Movement

The dog’s mouth is very expressive as well. Your dog communicates with its lips, teeth, and even tongue.

In general, a dog displays assertiveness, which may result from aggression or fear, when its lips curl vertically to reveal its long, dagger-shaped canines. Some dogs exhibit this behavior when they are happy or excited as well. The lips pull back horizontally to show more teeth in a canine grin of submission, frequently used as an appeasement gesture to signal that the dog is not a threat.

With a restrained bite, a dog grabbing the other dog’s muzzle or neck with its mouth is assertive behavior and may be a sign of escalating aggression.

A flicking tongue indicates a desire to lick, which is also an appeasing gesture when directed at the hands or face. The contented dog may sit with its mouth partially open and its tongue hanging out as it pants.

Expressive Ears

The mood of a puppy can be gauged by its ears. How simple it is to understand ear language depends on the shape of the dog’s ears, whether erect or floppy and pendulous. The German Shepherd dog’s ear conformation will be used for this discussion.

The dog is attentive and interested when standing upright and looking forward. Dogs feeling a little uneasy or scared and paying close attention to their surroundings may adopt this stance.

When the ears are drawn back and out to the sides, this could signify anxiety, especially if it’s coupled with other worrying behaviors like lowering the eyebrows and whining.

A sign of aggression could be when the ears flatten against the head and are coupled with a lowered head and neck position, direct eye contact, lip curling, or growling.

Tail Talk

Tail wagging is a clear body language indicator. The dog must be content if its tail is wagging, right? Wrong. People frequently misinterpret this signal. The dog is merely emotionally aroused if its tail is wagging. It might be excitement, but it might also be frustration or something worse. The dog’s tail position, speed, and direction can all be used to decipher the owner’s intentions and emotions.

In general, the dog becomes more excited the faster the tail wags. Consider the lengthy, slow, side-to-side tail sweeps your dog performs to greet you; these are the ones where the dog’s entire body wags. That dog looks at ease. A higher level of arousal, potentially in a negative way, is indicated by a faster twitch-like wag. Imagine an alert guard dog.

Additionally, the wag’s direction might contain hints. A recent study on tail-wagging revealed that when dogs experience something positive, such as interacting with their owner, they tend to wag their tails more to the right. When dogs faced a challenge, their tails wagged more to the left. The dog’s tail can also wag while rotating in a circle, known as the helicopter tail wag. Without a doubt, that wag is happy. It usually occurs when a dog welcomes a particular person.

Finally, the dog’s tail position on the ground provides valuable information about their emotional state. In general, a dog is more assertive the higher its tail is. Fear and stress are evident in dogs when their tails are tucked between their legs or pointed downward toward the ground. Confidence and possibly even aggressive dogs hold their tails like a flag. Dogs at ease hold their tails in a neutral position, though neutrality varies by breed. While breeds like the Italian Greyhound have a shallow neutral tail position, some breeds, like Chow Chows, have tails that naturally curl over their backs. You can spot a change in your dog’s emotions more quickly if you become familiar with the neutral tail position.

Body Position

Your puppy’s body language conveys how it is feeling. To communicate, dogs may push, bump, or lean against humans or other animals.

Assertive dogs often display erect posture as a sign of confidence. When another dog is around, they might appear almost on tiptoe. A more fearful dog assumes a submissive stance as it leans backward, whereas the assertive dog leans forward toward the person it wants to intimidate.

To make their position known, dogs will also “loom” over or stand on top of someone. The more dominant dog’s head, chin, or paws will rest on its neck or body, while the more assertive dog will do the same with its paws. To make their point clear and mount or clasp the other puppy’s neck, older dogs may put a puppy in his place by grabbing his muzzle or neck.

When a dog displays a submission, the exact opposite is true. When a puppy is insecure or trying to end a fight, they’ll try to look small and harmless. This may entail pinning their ears back, tucking their tails, squatting as close to the ground as possible, and extending a paw. Rolling over to expose the tummy is also a pacifying gesture, as is holding up a paw. The dog’s ultimate display of deference is to expose its stomach, possibly even to urinate while crouching.

Reactive Fur

Piloerection, or upright fur along the ridge of his back, known as the hackles, gives the dog a larger, more commanding appearance. It can simply occur when the dog is aroused and is not a conscious action. A bluff or serious business can both cause raised hackles. Both fearful and aggressive dogs tense up, which can even happen while playing.

Panting and Sweating

Dogs sweat to stay cool, but excessive sweating, especially rapid panting accompanied by a tight mouth and wrinkles, can indicate stress.

Dogs are also capable of sweating through their paws. You might notice wet footprints on the floor if a dog is agitated.

Play Aggression and Play Submission

Dogs may pretend to be aggressive to invite play and signal that it is a game by acting out in an over-the-top way before and after, a behavior known as a meta signal. Dogs may pretend to be submissive to play with other subordinate dogs. Puppies engage in a variety of play behaviors, some of which include overdoing it with exaggerated or inappropriate body language.

All of these signals must be interpreted collectively to interpret your dog’s meaning correctly. Frequently, a dog may send conflicting signals, with the front half displaying aggression while the back half displaying submission. Generally speaking, any form of fearful or aggressive behavior should be taken seriously, as it may result in a bite.

Each dog can find a lovely place in a pack by expressing submission to more assertive people. Fighting is less likely if there is open communication between the dogs (and, hopefully, the humans). Well-socialized dogs communicate effectively and clearly through their body language to seek out safe and comfortable interactions and forge deep connections. Dogs can engage in intricate social interactions with their favorite humans and other dogs thanks to these tools.

Understanding Canine Body Language

None of these canine body language cues operate independently. They are all a part of the same whole. To read a dog’s communication, you must observe every signal it gives off, from the height of its tail to the shape of its eyes. All the time, your dog is “speaking” to you. Understanding what your dog says will help you build a stronger bond of respect and trust. Additionally, you’ll be able to anticipate your dog’s behavior and stop issues before they start, thanks to your newfound understanding of their emotional state.

How Does a Puppy’s Behavior Change as He Grows? 

Certain types of puppy behavior are also related to his developmental stage.


When puppies nip and gnaw around the age of three weeks, it’s a sign that their baby teeth are beginning to erupt. At around three to six months, intense chewing and gnawing combined with increased aggression indicate the emergence of adult teeth. Purchase a chew toy for your dog now, and store shoes and other priceless items out of the way.

Puppy Socialization

Around four weeks old, puppies start to venture farther away from their mother and other puppies to explore. This shows bravery and curiosity. Introducing them to new people, animals, and experiences is a good time to socialize with them.


Around 12 weeks of age, your dog will start to test the limits set for them as they begin to understand their place in the family. Now is the time to be firm while also giving lots of assurance. Your dog should feel more at ease in their role and place in the family by six months.

Sexual Maturity

Puppies typically reach their equivalent puberty at around six months, though this can vary slightly from breed to breed. Females display bodily symptoms resembling menstruation in humans. Male pups at this stage may attempt to leave their homes, mark their territory, and mount just about anything in their path. The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and minimize unwanted behavior in your dog is to spay or neuter them.

Any dog parent would benefit from learning how to read a puppy’s body language and understand the meaning behind specific puppy behaviors. These abilities will enable you to better care for your puppy’s emotional needs so that he develops into an emotionally balanced dog and fosters a stronger bond between you and your puppy.

Why Should You Learn Puppy’s Body Language?

We know you have a lot on your plate as a new owner. You might be struggling with potty training, frustrated with trying to get your puppy to sleep through the night, and wondering how you will handle socialization and habituation in the world.

The good news is that observing your puppy’s body language will help you comprehend their needs and show you how to respond to them in a way that benefits both you and your puppy.

Observing how your puppy behaves or responds to a novel situation or environment can be fascinating. Do they appear uneasy? Do they enter new situations with many bravadoes before backing out at the last minute? Do they act silly, or do they start to sweat?

Understanding your puppy’s communication style will make it easier for you to meet their needs, shield them from potentially dangerous situations, and shower them with affection.

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