How To Understand Your Dog’s Body Language

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Disclaimer: Off The Leash is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Your dog is meeting another dog for the first time, and the hair on your dogs back starts to go up. What do you do in this situation? Is your dog about to attack or just excited to meet a new friend?

Understanding your dog’s body language is key to understanding how to handle situations. Even if it seems like you are watching something in a foreign language when you watch your dog interact with another dog, don’t worry we have you covered and will help to unravel these mysteries!

It can really frustrating not knowing whether to intervene in a situation or if it is a safe behavior.

Misreading your dog’s behavior is actually extremely common, but don’t worry, learning how to properly identify behaviors is quite easy. Understanding whether your dog is happy playing or feeling distressed makes a night and day difference in how they socialize with other dogs.

In reality, there are multiple tell-tale signs you can look out for. Once you understand and look out for these signals, you’ll have a much better understanding of how your dog is feeling.

Of course dogs understand each other naturally, but for us humans it is not so easy. We have to take time and learn the different types of signs and body language that canines use.

Following are some key gestures you can learn and watch out for to help you understand what’s going on inside your dog’s head. If you are more of a visual learner, there is a video at the bottom of this article by Doggy Dan that shows the behaviors in detail.

Hair On Back Up: the hair on the dogs neck and back stands on end

Most people immediately assume this is an aggressive gesture, and that the dog is angry and about to pounce. However, this can also signify excitement on the dog’s part. It does mean that the dog is very alert, but it could be just because he loves getting out and playing with other dogs. Watch your dog closely but do not panic.

Spinning In Circles: your dog does a complete spin

Your dog spinning around is almost always a positive sign, he or she is happy and is trying to encourage some play activity. Whenever your dog is comfortable enough to turn their back on another dog, it shows they are relaxed and not frightened.

Lifting a Paw In The Air: Your dog is on three legs and standing still

This is generally a submissive gesture and is a way for your dog to say “I’m submissive and non-threatening”. It is hard to tell how other dogs will react, but this is generally a good sign.

Head on Neck: your dog puts their head on the neck of another dog

This is a one of the most common ways a dog will attempt to assert dominance over another dog. It is a neutral action, it isn’t good or bad. If the other dog is not happy being dominated, you could have a problem on your hands. A dog who isn’t happy will definitely let the other dog know!

Coming Back To Play:

This is a good sign that suggests your dog is happy and is enjoying play! Many times this behavior isn’t really noticed by dog owners and goes overlooked, but you’ll notice it now! A lot of the time it may look like the dog is being dominated or isn’t enjoying things, but it is actually loving it and will run back for more. If they were truly unhappy, they definitely would not be coming back and would be staying far away.

These are just a few of the many behaviors displayed. There are quite a few behaviors to be on the lookout for, and some of them are more obvious than others.

One of the best places to learn about these signs and behaviors is Doggy Dan’s online dog training website. They offer over 250 videos and is an evergreen source of information about dog and puppy training. Doggy Dan breaks things down in an easy-to-understand format, and points out signs your dog displays that you may have been missing.

The Online Dog Trainer website even offers a $1 trial for 3 days, so you can look around and see if the program is for you. If not, not worries, you are only out one George Washington!

Here is an example of one of his videos, one the body language of dogs:


To take a peek inside, get your $1 all-access pass now for 3 days, click the link here.

I hope you enjoyed this article, if you did why not take a second to follow us on Facebook or Twitter? Have a great day and keep that tail wagging!


Brain Training For Dogs – Eliminate Your Dogs Bad Behavior!

  • Learn how to reveal the hidden intelligence inside your dog
  • Force-free gentle methods that are proven to work
  • Course created by a CPDT-KA certified trainer

If you follow our link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Brain Training for dogs product image


Hello friend, welcome to our brand new site, Off The Leash Dog Training. My name is Sam Blake and I absolutely love training puppies and dogs, of all ages! With this site, I hope to share the knowledge I have gained training my own dogs, as well as helping others with the process. Check out our categories and most popular posts and dive into the wealth of information we've put together here!

Leave a Reply

Get Our Newsletter and
Free Dog Training Resources

Join The Woof Crew for FREE dog training resources, product recommendations, community giveaways on our Facebook page and more! Woof woof!

dog hiding underneath a table

Why Is My Dog So Clingy All Of A Sudden?

I think we are all used to a certain level of companionship when it comes to our furry friends – most dogs just naturally like to be around us and involve themselves in whatever we are doing. That’s part of what makes them such good buddies to have around! But sometimes our dogs can suddenly

Read More »
dog hiding underneath a table

Help – My Dog Snapped at My Baby!

Most of us see our pets as part of our family – we treat them as such and assume they will be loving and gentle with each family member. So when your pet snaps at a baby or small child, it can seem to come out of the blue and be so uncharacteristic of their

Read More »
tired dog on sofa

Why Is My Dog Acting Different After Daycare?

So you’ve just picked up your dog from doggy daycare, a whimsical and magical place where puppies get to roam and have essential social interactions with other dogs. They should be loving it, right? But after picking them up, your dog just isn’t giving off normal vibes. They might seem anxious, stressed, whiney, more energetic or even

Read More »
dog wearing a vibration collar

Are Vibration Collars Humane Or Can They Cause Injury?

While searching around the internet, you might find a lot of different opinions on vibration collars – with many people wondering are they humane for your pup or are they a cruel punishment? Some people swear by them, saying that they are the only thing that has helped their dog stop barking. Let’s take a

Read More »
Scroll to Top