Is your dog as happy as you think?
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
These are some of the physical signs of a happy dog: A soft, partially open mouth. Ears that are relaxed, not pulled back or taut with alertness. Overall relaxed posture, with a raised head, relaxed tail, and confident stance (click here for more on dogbody language)
Dogs feel emotions similar to ours, but they can’t express them like we do. They show their feelings through body language, behavior, and even health. And believe it or not, there are specific signs that indicate dog happiness.
Dogs have the emotional capacity of a 2 to 2.5-year-old child, meaning they experience emotions like joy, fear, and anger. In fact, dogs have the same hormones and undergo the same types of chemical changes that humans do during emotional shifts (source.)
Like a 2-year-old child, your dog lacks the vocabulary to tell you how they feel. However, also like a toddler, dogs’ body language and behavior communicate emotions. For example, most of us know what it looks like when our dog is “frustrated.”
For Nina, frustration results in barking, or “talking” to me in plaintive whines. Her frustrated bark is distinctively different from her happy bark!
For example, here is a dog NOT happy at the vet: