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Humans have grown to rely on language to communicate. We are so good at communicating verbally with one another that we can even deceive each other through language while our body language tells a different story. Unfortunately, this focus on verbal communication makes it harder for us to communicate with our dogs. Our dogs use body language to communicate and are extremely good at reading the body language of others, including their human friends. Not only must we learn to read their body language in order to understand them, but we must also learn to use our own body language in order to get them to understand us. Although there are many different reasons a dog may be experiencing anxiety, noticing the signs listed below can help you to avoid situations when your pet is overwhelmed or ready to react. It is especially important to be mindful of your own body language in situations where your dog might be a bit anxious. In example, if you know that your dog lunges and barks at other dogs on a walk, tensing up when you see a dog down the street will signal to your dog that there is something to be concerned about and will add to if not trigger a response on their part. Instead, keep your body loose and your demeanor calm. Take the opportunity to distract your pup with treats and calm words as you walk past the other dog or calmly change directions if you know they cannot handle walking that close.

Anxious Dog Signals:
  • eyes wide or showing whites
  • mouth closed and puckered (commissure drawn in)
  • teeth showing
  • growling
  • tail between legs or stiff
  • walking slowly or freezing
  • tongue flicking
  • yawning
  • turning away or turning head
  • ears up or forward
  • hackles up
  • hunched or low body posture
  • eyes squinty or relaxed
  • ears relaxed and neutral
  • mouth slightly open or smiling (commissure back)
  • tongue lolling out or panting
  • licking others as friendly submission
  • tail neutral or wagging in an enthusiastic manner
  • stretching
  • relaxed posture with weight evenly distributed
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