Have you ever looked at your dog and wondered what he was trying to say to you? He stands faithfully by your side. Never doubts or questions you. There’s a reason he’s called “man’s best friend”.

But how well do we really know our dogs? Does a wagging tail always indicate happiness? Does panting always mean a dog is hot? Are some of these common beliefs actually true? Let’s take a look at a few common ways dogs actually communicate how they’re feeling. And if you have a question about your dogs behavior, contact your doctor at Aspect Animal Hospital and ask at your next appointment

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.

Dominant
Standing up tall and leaning forward
Tail held high
A dominant dog is showing another dog that he’s in charge.

Submissive
Laying on his back
Paws and tail tucked in
This position is most common when two dogs interact. One dog is telling the other he “gives up.” Abused dogs will sometimes display this behavior toward humans.

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.

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!