Eight key canine emotions and how to identify them

Dog owners wanting to better understand their pets have been offered advice to translate eight canine emotions.

Pet specialists from Pure Pet Food have revealed how to read dogs’ body language – and owners should pay special attention to tails and ears.

Just like humans, dogs are capable of feeling anxious, angry and playful, and these emotions are primarily conveyed through their body language.

Whilst a happy dog will have its ears up straight ad a wagging tail, an anxious or fearful dog will avoid eye contact, cower, and tuck its tail between its legs.

A spokesperson for Pure Pet Food, said: “Just like humans, dogs can show their emotions through the way they handle their bodies. Helping dog owners understand what their pet is wanting to say can be a big step in developing the relationship between humans and their canine companions.

“Nobody knows their dog better than the owner. The more time they spend together, and the better the human is at reading their dog, the stronger the relationship will be.”

  1. Happy – your dogs’ ears will be up (not forward) with their tail down and relaxed, unless of course it’s wagging which is a good indication any dog is happy.
  2. Alert – the main sign of an alert dog is the ears being forward and they may twitch if they’re trying to listen out for specific sound. Their eyes will be open and bright as they concentrate.
  3. Anxious – avoiding eye contact is a key trait of an anxious dog. Their body and tail will be still and slightly lowered. Sweaty footprints can also be an obvious sign, along with a raised paw and ears flattened.
  4. Fearful – dogs can show fear in different ways. Some will cower, others may roll on their back and some will bark or growl. A tucked tail and darting eyes whilst they concentrate on the source of fear is often a giveaway.
  5. Vulnerable – many dogs can feel unsure about meeting new people, making them feel vulnerable. They may roll onto their back with their paws in the air. But many people consider this to be a sign of wanting their belly rubbed, so be wary when introducing strangers to your pet.
  6. Angry – dogs will make themselves look as big as possible in the face of a threat, so a stiff body and fur standing on end is what to expect. Their mouth will also be open as they bare their teeth. The weight of the dog will mainly be over the front two feet in preparation to lunge and attack.
  7. Relieved – A relieved dog can often be easy to spot when their position changes from a previously angry or anxious position. They will visibly relax, with the eyes softening and head returning to a lower position.
  8. Playful – resting on the front legs with a raised bottom and a wagging tail are the main giveaways of a playful dog. Bringing a toy over is a pretty good sign too.