As dog owners both in the UK and Worldwide, we all wish we could understand our dog’s needs and feelings. With the absence of being able to communicate verbally with our pet dogs to achieve this, we are forced to rely on other methods for understanding them.

This brings us to understanding our dog’s body language to decipher what they are thinking or feeling.

Whilst at first glance it may seem that a dog is not exhibiting it’s feelings through their body stance or demeaner, this cannot be further from the truth to a trained eye.

In fact, dogs communicate to each other primarily through their body language and every breed follows the same language globally. This is mainly down to their core natural instincts. Dogs are of course descendant from wolves and their social hierarchy relies heavily on each member being able to understand what the other member is trying to communicate.

So it makes sense that we, as responsible dog owners, learn this language. After all our dogs are doing their best to understand our human commands so it is only fair we do our part.

Below we have broken down the different key areas of a dog’s body language in relation to their emotional position. we have also added some real World photos of dogs exhibiting this posture so you can easily see what exactly you should be looking for.

Scared And Anxious Dog Body Language

It is common for a dog to become scared or anxious for a variety of reasons that can be outside of our control as UK dog owners..

Whilst we cannot always stop this from happening, identifying when our dog is scared or anxious is our next best option.

Many dogs of various breeds will all exhibit very similar characteristics when scared or anxious but it may vary depending on the dog in question.

It is however important to note that dogs that exhibiting signs of fear may very well become aggressive if pushed. This makes identifying their body language all the more necessary so that you can approach in a non-threatening way.

Signs a dog is scared or anxious

  • Flattened ears
  • Lip licking
  • Yawning.
  • Cowering.
  • Tail tucked between the hind legs.
  • Raised hair on the back of the neck.
  • Avoiding eye contact/averting the eyes.
  • Scratching self frequently.

Relaxed And Friendly Dog Body Language

Our dogs are best when they are feeling friendly.

It is when they are in this state that we get the most out of dogs whether it be by cuddling on the couch together or just having them on hand while we entertain visitors.

A relaxed and friendly dog is the sign of a good owner and an overall happy dog. It is also the sign of a dog who is fulfilled mentally, physically and emotionally.

Only approaching a dog who is showing the body language of being relaxed and friendly is a good rule of thumb for newcomers. In fact, dogs displaying this body language are most likely trying to encourage you to give them some attention.

Signs a dog is relaxed and friendly

  • A high and wagging tail.
  • Floppy ears.
  • They lean in to you.
  • Open mouth with tongue out.
  • Looking away.
  • Rolling over.
  • Laying with head held high.

Curious And Alert Dog Body Language

All dogs, much like most animals, are curious by nature. The unknown or unexpected World we all live in makes it difficult not to be curious. Everything is new to your dog and their sole mission is to figure out what it is that they are looking at.

Knowing when your dog is feeling curious can help in many training exercises whether it be correcting behaviour or alerting you to your surroundings. Whilst it can be frustrating if you are demanding their full attention, spotting the signs early give you an opportunity to realign their focus.

It is perfectly healthy for your dog to be frequently displaying this body language and understanding when and why are keys to being a diligent UK dog owner.

IUt may simply be that your dog has your safety in mind. They might have seen something they think could be a danger and they are monitoring the situation.

Of course it could also be they are just nosey which is probably 90% of these instances!

Signs a dog is curious or alert

  • Light growling.
  • Mouth close looking away.
  • Staring.
  • Barking.
  • Sniffing.
  • Stalking.
  • Tail up and still.
  • Ears up.

Excited And Playful Dog Body Language

Without doubt a UK dog owner’s favourite body language is when our puppies are feeling excited and playful. Excited and full of energy are just our dog’s way of showing us they love us and they are ready to have some fun together.

This obviously has a time and a place, after all we wouldn’t want them like this all the time!

But when they are excited and ready to play we can bond and enjoy the best parts of being a dog owner. Whether your dog is ready to play or is just excited to see you there aren’t many of us that can’t resist feeling happiest when we see our dog this way.

Signs a dog is excited or playful

  • Play Biting.
  • Exaggerated growling or barking.
  • Play bowing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Showing their belly.
  • Wagging tail.

Aggressive And Confrontational Dog Body Language

Aggressive and confrontational dogs are unfortunately common throughout the UK spanning across every breed. There is no such thing as a particularly more aggressive breed over another.

With that being said, there are some breeds which tend to attract the more aggressive owner. An aggressive owner will unfortunately garner a more aggressive dog by nature.

Dogs of all breeds will exhibit aggressive body language at some point in their life. This may be because the dog is grumpy or it feels it’s territory/food source is under threat. It could also be out of fear and simply a defence mechanism.

This is 100% natural but spotting this body language early so it can be corrected or the danger removed could be key to stopping the behaviour.

Many dogs are all bark and no bite but it is very important to speak with a professional should you feel the dog could be a danger.

Signs a dog is aggressive or confrontational

  • Barking.
  • Growling.
  • Snarling.
  • Lunging.
  • Snapping.
  • Biting.
  • Pre-Bite Warning Signs.
  • Territorial Aggression.


Understanding your dog and their body language is our responsibility as dog owners. Our dogs can’t talk to us directly but they expect us to understand their posture like they understand ours.

For many dogs this can be their primary way of trying to fulfil their own needs and if we are ignorant to them it may breed frustration and anxiety.

Understanding them brings us closer to them and their personalities.

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