Your pet has unique body language that you are familiar with, but sometimes it can be hard to decipher. Here are a few common ways dogs communicate through body language, so if you find your dog doing something you don’t understand, this is a good place to begin looking.

Now while we know each dog is unique, if you have a concern about your dog’s behavior, be sure to ask us at your next appointment. In the meantime, here are a few common ways dogs communicate how they’re feeling:

Calm and neutral
Relaxed body posture; no tension
Relaxed tail, possibly wagging
Possibly panting happily
A calm, neutral dog is typically ready for you to greet and pet him.

Alert
Leaning forward
Ears are forward
Mouth might be closed
An alert dog could be curious or interested in what’s going on around him.

Anxious or Nervous
Ears are back
Tail is low, but the end might be wagging slightly
Posture is leaned back or turned to the side
Might be panting
A dog showing signs of anxiety is nervous about his surroundings and you should avoid petting him if you don’t know him.

Scared
Flattened ears
Tucked tail
Crouching lower to the ground
A scared dog should not be approached, because he might bite if he feels the need to defend himself.

Playful
Might “bow down” with tail in the air and wagging and front legs and chest on the ground
Might be panting or barking
This dog is ready for you to chase him or throw the ball for him.

Excited
Forward ears
Tail wagging quickly
Alert and ready to pounce
Likely panting
Sometimes, overly excited dogs can inadvertently scratch, jump up, or knock someone down in their excitement.

We know that each animal communicates a little differently from the next, so we encourage you to pay attention to your dog this week and see if you can figure out what he might be trying to tell you! The staff at Capitol Animal Clinic is wishing you and your pet a playful and exciting spring!