6 Ways Your Dog Is Telling You They’re Happy

Isn’t it unfortunate that you can’t just ask your dog if he’s happy? You won’t understand his barks, but that doesn’t mean you have no way of knowing how your pup feels. Over time, you will likely get used to his body language.

In the meantime, familiarize yourself with some of the most common signs that your dog is happy. This knowledge may save you a call to the vet when you’re unsure of your dog’s behavior.

1. High, Wagging Tail

Your dog’s tail is among the most important indicators of how he feels. Even people who are unfamiliar with canine body language know that a wagging tail indicates happiness. Take this a step further and know that when your dog’s tail is wagging and high, he is living his best life.

2. Overall Relaxed Body

Take a look at your dog’s posture and overall body language. If he seems relaxed, then he’s likely incredibly happy. Pay particular attention to his posture and look out for stiffness or stress. If he seems calm, that’s a sign that he’s feeling happy.

When checking your dog’s body, start with his shoulders. They should be nice and loose. Then, look at his eyes. They should look soft and not necessarily have a fixed gaze.

Check out his ears. Relaxed ears will not be flattened against your dog’s head or tense. Remember that if his ears are pricked upright, this means he is still alert. That doesn’t mean he’s happy or sad; it’s just that he’s paying close attention to his surroundings.

Pay attention to his entire body. There are two good indicators of happiness here. The first is being incredibly wiggly, with those wiggles being an extension of his wagging tail. The other is if he just seems incredibly “flopped out” and relaxed.

3. Leaning Into You

Dogs are incredibly social and love their humans. This is especially true when they are happy. Essentially, your pup wants to share his happiness with you. So, if your dog comes over for attention, that can indicate he’s happy.

To tell whether that’s the case or he wants something, look for the other signs on this list as well. If your dog leans into your hand as you pet them or leans against another part of your body, that’s almost a guarantee that he’s happy.

Of course, this also extends to your dog cuddling with you. If he frequently snuggles next to you when you let him, he trusts you and is happy to be spending time with you.

4. Playfulness

Playfulness can depend on your dog’s age as well as his breed, but it is very common for happier dogs to be more playful. When your dog is happy, he will want to run around and let some of his energy loose. If your dog is giving you play bows or asking you to play in another way, he’s probably happy.

An extension of this can also be if your dog gets excited when you take out the leash or indicate you are going for a walk together. This means that they have a positive experience walking with you and are happy.

5. Not Being Destructive

You can also tell a lot about whether your dog is happy by looking at his behavior, specifically how destructive he is. If a dog is destructive, it can be a sign of stress or anxiety. That being said, you should remember that some slightly destructive behavior is natural for puppies, as they are teething and still learning the rules.

This sign of canine happiness extends past not being destructive. If they are generally well-behaved, they are likely happy. A bored, stressed, or anxious dog is unlikely to be on his best behavior, but a happy one will be.

6. Healthy Appetite

How your dog feels about mealtimes is another indicator of his happiness levels. This doesn’t mean that he has to be greedy or overly excited about food. It simply means that he should be willing to eat.

More importantly, you will want to have a baseline for comparison when looking at your dog’s appetite to see if he’s happy. If his reaction to food suddenly changes, he may be unhappy. Make sure you have a good understanding of healthy pet food ingredients and are feeding your porch a balanced, healthy diet.

Bonus: Other Signs of Happiness

In addition to all of the above, the following are some other indications that your dog is happy:
  • Dancing or hopping
  • The “zoomies”
  • Lolling tongue
  • Happy, high-pitched, short barks
  • Belly up in submissive posture
  • Excited to see you
  • Head tilt when they look at you
  • Good sleeping habits
  • Friendliness and socialness (including with other dogs)

The Opposite: Signs Your Dog Is Not Happy

While you want to be on the lookout for all of the above signs that your dog is happy, you should also be aware of indications that he is not in a positive mood. This is crucial because if your dog isn’t happy, this may indicate that there is something wrong.

If he seems constantly down, you should take him to the vet to make sure he’s healthy. You don’t want anything to stand in the way of your pet’s happiness, so consider pet insurance to help with finances at the vet.

With that in mind, the following are some signs that your dog is not happy:

  • Low or tucked tail
  • Turning away from you
  • Hiding
  • Tense body position
  • Ears sitting back
  • Appeasement behavior (such as stiff submissive poses or licking their lips)


While your dog can’t speak to tell you when he’s happy or unhappy, he gives you plenty of cues to let you know how he feels. From a wagging tail to a healthy appetite, there are plenty of signs to look out for. If your dog doesn’t seem happy, take him to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong. Most importantly always give your dog lots of love!

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