We often say that our dogs have souls. And it’s true; you need only to look at your dog’s face to know they are thinking about and reacting to their environment. Dogs have complex emotions just like human beings. As pet owners, it can be helpful for us to understand our animals’ facial expressions. This can help us accurately assess their mood and how to respond accordingly.
From Ear to Ear
Many dogs smile at their owners. A happy dog has a relaxed mouth, and chances are that your pup’s relaxed state mirrors a smile. Their mouth appears loose, with their lips falling to reveal gums. Sometimes, the smile can appear slightly more taught. An upward grin can mean excitement; your dog may bare their teeth at the sight of a ball or other toy. They may also exhibit a “submissive grin.” Usually reserved for dog-to-dog interactions, the submissive grin shows trust and places dominance on the receiver. Experts even suggest that this grin mimics a human smile.
Of course, some smiles are less friendly. Dogs may bare their teeth in a “grin” when they are upset. When their lips pull back horizontally, it is a sign of stress or fear. When their lips pull up vertically, it is a sign of aggression. Whatever the case, your dog should be removed from a situation that makes them tense.
For More than Hearing
Sometimes, dogs show their emotions with their ears. A relaxed dog shows no tension in their ears. This may look different for prick-eared versus drop-eared dogs, but the concept is the same: if their ears look “normal,” they are likely feeling relaxed.
Dogs move their ears in response to external stimuli. A dog who is excited will point their ears forward. However, in this state they may feel either happy or threatened. If your dog is happy, their eyes will be soft around the edges and their body will be wiggly or loose. If your dog is tense, their eyes and body will be firm.
A dog with their ears pulled back is even more aroused. In some cases, such as playing, a dog may face their ears back in happy excitement. However, it is important to check out their demeanor. If they are tense, they might squint their eyes and/or bark.
Windows to the Soul
We already mentioned eyes in relation to the ears, but a dog’s eyes can tell a story on their own. Naturally, a dog makes soft eye contact. They gaze rather than stare, looking restfully toward their point of focus. Their eye contact may sharpen when they are enticed. This “hard stare” may be unnerving, and you may want to keep small children back just in case. Dogs in this state are known to bite.
When dogs open their eyes wide enough to see the whites, it is called a whale eye. Sometimes, you can see these whites without major suspicion. However, dogs who show the whites of their eyes purposefully are usually distressed. Be prepared for them to make sudden movements.
Your dog is in good hands at Claws N Paws Day Spa. Our dedicated team of professional groomers know how to assess their emotions and act accordingly. For more information about our services or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 714-962-1005.