9 Ways How to tell if my dog is happy

A happy dog is friendly to other dogs and human beings. He enjoys the company and is more attentive.

An unhappy or sick dog can barely pay attention and shows aggression whenever he is near other dogs or people.

happy dog outdoors in front of rainbow umbrella

Owning a dog is more work than most people think. When people think about having a dog, they think of playing fetch and laying on the couch with the pet. However, there is so much more to owning a dog. Dogs are brilliant and playful animals. Their intelligence makes them the perfect companion hence the reason why they are the most popular pets.

Much like having a child, owning a dog means that you will have to make sure they are healthy, feed them the appropriate diet, wash them, protect them from harm and make sure they are happy at all times.

Frequently Asked Question

New dog owners often have a lot of questions about their dogs. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “How do I know if my dog is happy?”

Since dogs do not speak a language that we can understand, it is often hard to tell their emotions. A dog will bark when scared when excited, sad, and hungry. However, dogs are very expressive. This means that you can tell if your dog is happy, sad, alert, excited or agitated by looking at his body language. To be able to do so, you need to know what you are looking for. What body language means what!

How to tell if my dog is happy

Below are primary tells that will guide you on how to know if your dog is happy.

1. The Tail of a happy dog

Cute small dog on a walk in a park, brown smiling dog breathing heavily outdoors in summer outdoors

According to Doctor Wilhelm, you can tell if dogs are happy by looking at the position of their tail. Generally, when a dog is happy, his entire body appears to be relaxed. Different dogs express their happy tails in varying ways. Most of the time, they will raise their tail. However, if the tail is raised too high, it could be a sign of agitation. On the other hand, if your dog’s tail is pinned under the body, it is a reliable indicator that the dog is experiencing fear.

Happy dogs also tend to wag their tails. The movement occurs in such a manner that the entire body is also involved. At the same time, the dog tail should be loose, soft and held at a neutral position of the body. Look out for moments when your dog wags his tail while the entire body is stiff. This could be a sign of fear, or the dog is assessing a new situation, according to Doctor Barrack.

2. The Eyes of a happy dog

beautiful Siberian husky dog. Blue-eyed husky dog looks closely at the top with blue eyes

The most basic answer on how to know if your dog is happy is by looking at his eyes. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals you can tell that your dog is happy if his eyes are in their regular shape. If you paid attention to the shape of your dog’s eyes during different times of the day and various activities, you would be able to tell the variations.

Narrowed eyes or a hard gaze is a sign of aggression. On the other hand, wide eyes are a sign of fear. When a dog’s eyes and eyelids are relaxed, they give off a look that most people refer to as the “puppy dog eyes.”

3. The Perky Ears of a dog that is  happy

happy corgies smiling

According to PDSA, you can also know how to tell when your dog is happy by looking at the state of his ears. A happy dog will have at-ease ears. Note that different breeds have varying ear shapes. However, this does not take away from the fact that when dogs are happy, they tend to wear their ears in a relaxed manner. In some cases, one ear may appear cooked up while the other is loose or floppy. In other cases, both the ears may appear loose and floppy.
Look out for instances when your dog’s ears are pinned back as it is an indicator of aggression. On the other hand, when the ears are pricked forward, it is an indicator that the dog is alert or curious. When the ears are flattened against the head, it is a sign that the dog is sad.

4. The Mouth of a happy dog

cute dog put his face on his knees to the man and smiling from the hands scratching her ear

According to the ASPCA, you can also tell the emotions of your dog by looking at his mouth. A happy dog tends to wear his mouth in a relaxed manner. Depending on the breed, a happy dog will either have a closed or slightly open mouth. To be able to tell if the slightly open mouth is a sign of happiness or not, you need to have studied your dog over time and learnt his tells.

Often, dog owners think that when a dog is panting with his mouth open, then he is either happy or hungry. However, the truth is that this could be a sign of stress or overheating. On the other hand, if the dog appears to have his mouth open with the teeth clenched and the lips curled back, it is a strong indicator of aggression.

5. The Overall Body stance of a dog that’s happy with life

Beagle portrait on the background of a beautiful sunset

Another obvious answer to the question “how do I know if my dog is happy?” is by monitoring is overall body language. According to PetMD, a happy dog tends to carry himself in a relaxed manner. The dog will have a loose, soft, wiggly body language. The dog is also often playful, and the weight of his body is evenly distributed.

Note that if your dog seems tense, stiff, or too tight, it is a sign that he is uncomfortable and sometimes could be an indicator of ill health.

6. The Coat of a happy dog

Black Baby Poodle

Happy dogs tend to have a healthy coat. The coat is the part of the dog’s body that is occupied by fur. According to WikiHow, if you notice that your dog’s fur is shedding more than normal, it could be a sign of an unhappy dog. However, note that shedding could also be a sign of a skin condition or a medical issue. Therefore, you may want to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice the issue.

7. A happy dog has a good appetite

Dog with Raw Meat in Mouth. Border Collie with Pork Neck Steak

Away from the body language, you can also tell the emotions of your dog by monitoring his appetite. According to Doctor Barrack of PetMD, a happy dog tends to have a healthy appetite and not shy away from food. However, if a dog refuses to eat, it could be a sign of a medical condition or sadness. Lonely dogs also suffer from a lack of appetite. However, you also want to look out for an unexpected increase in appetite as it could be a sign of illness as well.

8. Sleeping Patterns and sleep duration of a happy dog

Cute brown dog, the dachshund sleeps under the blanket.

According to Barkstory, a happy dog tends to sleep for up to 16 hours a day. When a dog sleeps well, it is an indicator that he is comfortable and doesn’t have any stress. If your dog cannot fall asleep for more than a few hours straight or keeps moving from one sleeping spot to another, it could be a sign of stress. Lack of sleep in dogs could also be an indicator of ill health.

Keep an eye out for a dog that sleeps for most of the day also. This could be a sign of ill health or loneliness also.

9. A happy dog exhibits Playfulness

Beagle dog with rolled floppy ear running in grass with a happy smiley face

You can also tell if your dog is happy or not by monitoring his playfulness. Usually, dogs are very playful creatures. According to the PDSA, if a dog refuses to play or shows less physical activity, it is a reliable indicator of loneliness, sadness, or a medical condition.


Using the signs mentioned above, you will be able to tell if your dog is happy. However, what happens if you find that your dog is unhappy. The remedy is always to find out the reason why they are not happy and working on it. Dogs can be unhappy if they are not getting attention from you if they are sick, lonely, or fearful.

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