When you’re a pup parent, your dog’s happiness means everything. Whether you’re playing in the yard or offering up a delicious treat, all you want is for your pup to be happy. You know he feels the same kinds of emotions you do, but he doesn’t always express them in ways you’d expect. If he can’t come out and tell you how he’s feeling, how are you supposed to know you’re doing your job? A wagging tail is usually a good sign, but that’s not the only way dogs communicate.
If you’re wondering if your dog is truly happy by your side, look for these signs.
1. It’s All in the Eyes
They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and your dog’s eyes are a great indication of his emotions. Happy dogs have what’s called “soft eyes.” This means their eyes and eyelids are relaxed as opposed to narrowed or widened. A dog that’s giving you a hard gaze could be feeling irritable or otherwise on edge. And if your dog’s eyes are so wide you can see the whites, he’s most likely frightened. A soft, relaxed look from your pup means (at least for the moment) he’s completely content.
2. Tail Held High
A wagging tail is almost always a good sign, but there’s more to a tail than its wag. The position in which a dog holds his tail can also tell you a lot about his emotions. When your dog tucks his tail between his legs, it means he’s frightened. And when he holds his tail high and erect, it means he’s confident and feeling good. Check out your pup’s tail while you’re out on walks or just hanging out at home. A tail position somewhere in the middle of high and low could indicate something is bothering your dog. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not happy with his life, but it’s worth looking into.
3. Keep Calm And Don’t Destroy Things
Dogs tend to explore the world with their mouths, and that can naturally lead to chewing on the occasional shoe. Excessive chewing, however, is a different story. Destructive behaviors that leave holes in walls and entire sofas ripped apart are usually due to either boredom or stress. Happy dogs rarely get destructive because they have enough physical and mental stimulation to buoy their emotions.
4. "Attention, Please!"
If you can’t even go to the bathroom without your furry friend keeping you company, that’s a sure sign he’s happiest when he’s with you. Dogs don’t voluntarily hang out with people they don’t like. Look for situations where your dog makes a conscious decision to be near you. If you’re sitting on the couch and your dog jumps into your lap, consider that his way of saying, “You make me happy!” Another good sign is if you’re out at the park and your dog chooses to check in with you in between bouts of play with other dogs.
5. Can't Contain the Happy!
Once of the easiest ways to tell if a dog is happy is to mark occasions when he is genuinely excited. Does he rush over to greet you when you walk in the door? Does he do a little happy dance every time you reach for the leash? Does he celebrate dinner time with a fast-moving tail and happy bark? These behaviors are all signs of happiness. The more often your dog gets excited, the happier he is in general.
Happiness is only one of the many emotions your dog can feel in a day. Sometimes he’s excited, other times he’s frustrated, confused, or irritated. Just like people, dogs are capable of feeling a long list of emotions all in the same day. Don’t panic if you notice your dog is in a bad mood. As long he’s cared for, healthy, and paid attention to, his bad mood is probably temporary. If you’re ever concerned about your dog’s mental state, don’t hesitate to talk to your vet.