How to Read Your Dog’s Body Language

Having a non-verbal relationship with your pooch can provide a refreshing counterpoint to all the nattering we do with friends, family and colleagues. However, sometimes there are a few barks and tail wags that get lost in translation. So, to get you a bit more clued up on the messages your dog is trying to send, Jaycliffe Pets are here to provide some insight into doggy body language!


Fear, stress and aggression can be rather difficult states to disentangle when it comes to your pooch, as the signs given can often overlap.

When your dog is stressed she will have her ears pinned back, her body lowered and her tail tucked down – these signals are common amongst all negative canine mental states. Stress, however, will be accompanied by rapid panting out of the corner of the mouth, dilated pupils and sweating through the pads in her feet.

This behaviour is unlikely to be directed at humans or other dogs, but is rather a reaction to negative social or environmental stimulus out in the world. In this situation, it’s best to try and determine what the cause of the problem is and remove your pooch from the issue as quickly as possible.


If your dog is demonstrating signs of aggression, it’s important to discern whether the aggression is born out of dominance or fear, as this may give you a better idea of how to handle the situation. The former will come with the following signs: a raised tail, bared teeth, stiff legs and ears forward. This is a clear expression of dominance and – unless you’re Cesar Millan – should not be challenged or appeased.

Signs of fearful aggression, however, will appear very similar to those of stress. The key difference will be some wrinkling around the nose and a display of teeth. This indicates to perceived threats that, although scared, she will still attack.

In this case, again, it’s best to work out just what is causing the worried behaviour and attempt to remove her from it, as opposed to approaching your dog directly to deal with the issue.


A raised tail doesn’t always mean an angry pooch, though. If your dog’s tail is up and wagging, it could just mean they want a romp. If this is the case, it will be accompanied by an exposed tongue and bent, poised front legs – indicating she’s ready to sprint off round the garden in seconds!

Moreover, if your dog is in a particularly playful mood, this behaviour might also come with a series of barks and attack/retreat sequences. You should not be alarmed, though, the immediate retreats signal that the previous behaviour was not intended to be threatening.


When your pooch is alert, her behaviour is likely to be neutral but stiff. This means a tall stance, horizontal tail, pricked ears and a closed mouth. Such behaviour will usually occur when she has sensed something of interest, and will likely be extremely difficult to interrupt.

Jaycliffe Pets offer a first-rate care service for your pets while you are away from home. From day care services to long-term holiday stays, our Rotherham based cattery, kennels and grooming services will exceed your expectations. Our team live on site to ensure your pet gets true round-the-clock care. For more information, or to book in your pet, contact our friendly team today.