Dogs are relatively simple creatures, with a range of emotions that could be equated to that of a two-year-old child, says our head vet Paul. Their emotional capacity includes feeling joy, fear, and anger, and they don’t have the vocabulary to communicate. Instead, they rely on body language to tell us how they feel.
Here are our top 10 ways to spot if your dog is happy. If your dog starts to display any unusual behaviour it could be a sign of health problems, so always feel free to contact us at Rockingham Road Veterinary Surgery for help and advice.
Ten ways to tell if your dog is happy
- Let’s start with the most obvious display of happiness – that wagging tail that takes the rest of a relaxed body with it. If your dog is standing still and wagging in a stiff manner it is more likely alert or nervous.
- Showing their belly. What dog doesn’t love a belly-rub, and the fact it is letting you near the most vulnerable parts of its body means it’s properly relaxed.
- Play bowing. Dogs learn to do this as pups and it shows they’re inviting a game with you or other dogs.
- Relaxed eyes. The shape of your dog’s eyes is a good indicator of mood.
- Soft mouth, maybe partially open.
- Comfortable ears. Obviously dogs’ ears vary from breed to breed, but you can see if they are being held in a tense manner.
- Non-destructive behaviour. Happy dogs tend not to chew the things they’re not supposed to.
- A healthy appetite. A dog with a loss of appetite is not a happy pet and this is usually one of the first signs of a health problem.
- An overall relaxed posture, with head held up and tail relaxed.
- Excitement. If your dog goes crazy when you arrive home, suggest a walk or start playing, it’s full of life. If it seems lacklustre when it comes to such things you should give us a call on 01536 407778 for advice.
If you’re in any doubt at all about your dog’s happiness, why not book an appointment for a check-up?