How To Tell If Your Dog Is Happy






How to tell if your dog is happy is a question that I’m sure all dog owners would like the answer to.

As a dog parent do you find yourself thinking about this because you desperately want your dog to be happy just as you want your children to be happy!

In particular do you often find yourself worrying about whether your dog is happy or not? Well of course you do! And it’s hardly surprising given that according to a news report on TV this morning a study has found that three quarters of dog owners love their dog more than their partner!

Well allow me to allay your fears and worries by describing what to look for to determine if your pet pooch is happy or not.

Dogs are of course excellent communicators with other dogs like their wild counterparts – wolves. Indeed animals of any species seem to manage to communicate very effectively using their behaviour, bark and yes even minds, commonly called telepathy or sixth sense.

10 years ago, I attended an animal communication workshop run by Holly Davis over a weekend.

When I booked the workshop, I assumed I would find out all about animals’ behaviour as a means of understanding how they were feeling and thinking. I was astonished to discover it was about developing the ability to communicate with animals telepathically. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it or that’s at least what I thought when Holly set the scene for the workshop sessions. Save to say by the end of the Workshop I and all the other attendees were convinced that all human beings and animals have the innate ability to communicate telepathically. More of that in my next article.

For the purposes of this article I will focus on knowing if your best friend is happy or not by their behaviour.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Happy – The Signs

Tail Wagging

When your dog wags his tails so much that his whole body wags or in a slow purposeful wag then there’s no mistaking he’s really happy.

Mouth Relaxed and Open

He appears to be smiling with his tongue hanging out.

No Destructive Behaviour

He’s happy to be left at home while you pop out briefly and won’t use the opportunity to chew your sofa or the legs of your dining table! Separation anxiety often causes this and is usually a problem with a dog that is not getting enough exercise and/or mental stimulation.

Loves to Play

The desire to play is in a dog’s DNA! They love to play so you know that your dog is not happy if he doesn’t want to fetch a ball or sometimes as was the case with one of my Spinones, run off with it in the hope you would chase him! If and when your dog doesn’t show any interest or desire to play then this probably indicates some kind of underlying problem and it’s probably time to book an appointment with your vet.

A Good Appetite

His appetite is normal. Dogs love their food! If your dog doesn’t show any interest in the food you put out for him or his appetite is much greater than normal then clearly something is wrong and needs checking out with the vet.

Play Bows

Play bows are a sure fire indication a dog is happy as he either invites you to play with him or another dog. A variation of this with other dogs is jumping towards them to provoke play.

Belly Up

Not to be confused with a submissive posture the difference being that with a happy dog this is an invitation for you to tickle their belly. You can tell the difference between the submissive belly up posture and the if you like happy belly up posture because submissive dogs do belly up with their mouths closed and happy dogs with their mouths open and tongues hanging out – often with what appears to be a smile on their face.


Most dogs bark although not all and of course when they do bark it can either be an excited happy bark of the kind they use when pleased to see you. The other extreme is a deep bark or growl that shows they are far from happy.  I sometimes walk a neighbour’s Lurcher called Holly. I have never heard her bark. She’s so laid back she’s almost comatose although I’m sure she would bark if she perceived a threat from another dog or human being!

Leaning Against You

When a dog leans against or into you they are happy to be with you and are just looking for some love and affection – aren’t we all! I once had a Spinone that loved to reverse into me to encourage me to rub his backside which he loved!

I hope these signs will provide you with some answers to the question how to tell if your dog is happy although I’m sure there are many others. How do you know when your dog’s happy? Are their more signs you’ve noticed than I’ve written about in this article. Please do let me and other readers know by commenting below!

Derek Collinson
Derek Collinson is a passionate Scot who loves all dogs. He's an animal communicator and healer who created the first dating site for dog lovers in the world in 2006.
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