Body Language

Body Language

Dogs communicate with one another using their bodies, vocalizations and some marking behaviors. There will be some variance based on individual dogs and breed characteristics, and it is important to observe the whole dog. Seek professional help if you are not sure about a behavior your dog is exhibiting.

Calming Behaviors*


  • Lip Licking
  • Yawning
  • Shaking body (the same as after a bath)
  • Averting eyes, turn body away
  • Sniffing the ground more than normal


*On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas

  Submissive, Appeasing, Fearful Relaxed, Calm, Confident Alert, Aroused, Tense
BODY • Back or lowered, hackles may be raised • Vertical, standing straight,
full height, body soft
• "Play Bow": an invitation to
play; sending a message
that behavior that might
look like aggression is play.
• Forward, standing
tall, hackles may be
raised, body tense or
TAIL • Tucked or curled under
• Neutral, fast wag
• Low and still
• Neutral, fast wag
• Neutral with a slow steady
• High, still, or fast wag
EARS • Pinned Back • Back and Relaxed
• Forward and Relaxed
• Pricked Forward
EYES • Averted, no eye
• Squinting, eyes closed
• Squinting, eyes closed:
happy greeting
• Soft, direct eye contact
• Eyes open wide
• Hard Stare
MOUTH • Lips back (may be a
“submissive grin”)
• Licking lips, yawing
• Lips neutral, soft • Lips forward, may be
lifted: possible
intention to bite