How To Read a Dog’s Body Language: The Basics for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Alert French Bulldog

Dogs are just like humans as they have emotions and feelings. There are times they’re happy, and at other times they can be sad, anxious, or terrified. If you wish to experience success as a pet sitter or a dog walker, then you need to learn the cues of how to read dog body language. Not only can you help to diffuse a tense situation, but your doggy client will be much happier and be excited every time they see you!

Here are a few tips to help you learn the basics about the dog body language every pet sitter should know.

1. Relaxed and approachable.

An unthreatened dog will have a relaxed stance with tail down. Their ears will be up and their head will be high. They may have their mouths open slightly, with tongue hanging out. They’ll have a loose stance that falls equally on all four legs.

Relaxed dog
Relaxed dog. Via Unsplash

2. Alert and curious.

An alert and curious dog will have their mouth closed, eyes and head facing forward. Their ears will be slightly forward, and their tail upwards. The tail may be moving a bit sideways. Their body will be slightly leaning forward.

Alert and curious dogs
Alert and curious dogs. Via Pexels

3. Aggressive but dominant.

The aggressive dog who feels he’s still in control will be slightly leaning forward, ears pointed forward, and lips curled. Their nose may be wrinkled, with vertical wrinkles on their forehead. You’ll be able to see their teeth and their gums as they hold their mouth in a C-shape. Their front legs will be in a stiff-legged stance. You’ll see hackles raised on their back.

4. Aggressive but fearful.

Possesses some of the same dog body language as above, but will have their body tilted down to the ground, with front end slightly lower. Their tail will be tucked against their belly and will not move.

5. Stressed and aggressive.

Will have similar facial features as the aggressive dog body language above but will be sweating through their paw pads. Their tail will be down but not tucked against the belly. They’ll be experiencing rapid panting.

Angry dog
Angry and aggressive dog. Via Pixabay

6. Worried and fearful.

Your dog will have its body slightly lowered but not its head. It’ll offer only brief eye contact. It will lick at the face of another dog that it’s meeting, or it will lick at the air. One paw will be raised.

7. Total Submission.

A totally submissive dog will be lying on their back, neck exposed, and eyes partially closed. They may have the corners of their mouth back. Ears will be laid flat against the head. Their tail will be tucked against their stomach. They may release some pee.

8. Playfulness.

A playful dog will have their front end lowered, back end in the air, with tail held high. Their ears will be up and pupils dilated. Their mouth may be open with tongue exposed. They’ll have bent forepaws. They may hold this position for a moment before taking off at a run.

Playful dog
Playful dog. Via Pixabay

Featured image via Unsplash