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12 Telltale Signs Your Dog Is Happy

Or should that be tell-tail signs? Either way, if your pup exhibits these behaviours on a regular basis, it's a good thing!

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amazing portrait of young crossbreed dog (german shepherd) during sunset in grassxkunclova/Shutterstock

Decoding your dog’s behaviour

Dogs don’t affect an air of aloofness like cats (and some humans), and they don’t play hard to get. If they’re happy, chances are you’ll know it, between the tail-wagging, licks, and yelps of joy. Despite that, pet parents often wonder whether their pups are truly happy on a consistent basis. After all, they can’t tell you with words, so you have to figure out what their behaviour means. And dogs do sometimes get mad at you, so if that’s the case, you’ll want to remedy that problem ASAP. But if they’re exhibiting the following behaviours, you can rest easy: they are indeed as happy as you’ve been hoping they are.

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French bulldog dog waiting for owner at the windowOyls/Shutterstock

They greet you when you get home

Your pup may be patiently waiting for you right at the door when you turn the key in the lock—or, in many cases, is jumping up and down and barely able to contain his excitement. Whatever your dog’s personality and particular greeting style, the message is loud and clear: He’s happy you’re back. “When your dog meets you at the door, it’s a sign that you two have a positive relationship and that they are eagerly awaiting interaction with you,” says Rebecca Woodruff, an animal behaviour consultant for Best Friends Animal Society. If your dog’s enthusiasm suddenly starts to wane when you come home, something could be wrong: lethargy may be a sign that you need to call the vet.

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A red and white mixed breed dog lying in the grass and receiving a belly rubMary Swift/Shutterstock

They expose their belly to you

“A dog that exposes its belly to you—usually with a slightly open mouth, light panting, and wagging tail—[is exhibiting] a sign of trust,” says Evelyn Kass-Williamson, DVM, an integrative veterinarian who specializes in pet nutrition. It’s also a sign that your dog would be delighted to get a little belly rub. If you’ve got a feline in your family, too, exposing her belly also one of the sure signs your dog trusts you—though she might not actually want a belly rub.

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Naughty dog left home alone, sitting in the middle of mess on the floor. Disobedient dog with bad behavior. Puppy chews everything while teeht are growingLaineN/Shutterstock

They mind their manners

Dogs who exhibit destructive or aggressive behaviours—such as tearing up furniture or clothing, biting, or snarling—are generally under stress, anxiety, or perhaps even bored, according to PetMD. Conversely, when dogs exhibit good behaviour, it’s a deeper sign that they’re feeling content. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, and some breeds are feistier than others, but a dog with good behaviour and manners is generally a happy dog.

We’ve rounded up the dog breeds that are less likely to bite.

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sleepy dogsDavid Charles Cottam/Shutterstock

They cuddle up with you on the couch

If your pup is allowed on the couch and hops up to curl up next to you, this is a reaffirming sign that he’s happy to be around you. “Dogs are social creatures and like to sleep next to the individuals—people, dogs, or other animals—that they’re bonded to,” says Woodruff. “This behaviour means they trust you and want to be close to you.”

Check out these reasons every kid should grow up with a big dog.

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girl and dog sennenhund breed the dog loves his mistress leans on her. the hostess's legs the dog and the leashAlexander_Evgenyevich/Shutterstock

They lean into you

It’s one of the most endearing things in the world when a pup rests its body against yours. Like cuddling with you on the couch, it’s also a sign that they enjoy your company and trust you enough to be that close. A leaning pooch is a happy pooch. On that note, here’s what your dog’s tail is trying to tell you.

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A playful black and red Dachshund mixed breed dog in a play bow position with a ball in its mouthMary Swift/Shutterstock

They assume the “play bow” position

The “play bow” is a common position that dogs assume when they’re feeling happy and playful. What is it, exactly? “The front end is down, tail is straight up and may be wagging, ears are forward, eyes are steady on you,” says Dr. Kass-Williamson. “The play bow is a clear invitation to play, chase, or wrestle.”

Make sure you know the bad habits dog owners need to stop.

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Hungry labrador retriever is feeding at home. Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

Their appetite is healthy

A dog that’s eager to chow down is generally feeling happy, healthy, and content. If your pup refuses to eat or has a diminished appetite, it could be a sign that they’re not feeling well, or that they’re experiencing anxiety or stress. It could also be something more serious. If your pup isn’t eating like his or her usual self, talk to your vet.

Don’t miss the possible reasons why your dog might not be eating.

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dog with leather leash waiting to go walkiesJavier Brosch/Shutterstock

They get excited when the leash comes out

“If your dog has positive experiences when you take them outside, they make the connection that their leash or harness is a sign of a good time,” says Woodruff. This usually sets them off into a happy dog dance that consists of jumping up and down, spinning in circles, or tapping their feet.

Learn how to stop your dog from barking.

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Purebred Jack Russel Terrier dog outdoors on a sunny summer day.BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock

They get the zoomies

“Dogs love to run. When they are very happy, they need a way to burn off excess energy. They will often run in circles around the house or yard multiple times,” says Dr. Kass-Williamson. “When running, their tail is up, mouth is open, and tongue is often hanging out. They may even bark to let you know how happy they are. Just remember to get out of the way!”

Find out the reasons behind your dog’s bad breath.

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dog waggingHollysdogs/Shutterstock

They do a full-body wag

A wag that engages your dog’s entire body is a clear sign of joyfulness. This might happen before eating, when you wake up in the morning, or before a fun car ride. But it’s important to note that not all tail wags indicate happiness—especially stiff wags that don’t engage the rest of the body. Some types of wags can indicate fear, aggression, or anxiety.

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Purebred beagle dog lying on white sofa in luxury Hotel roomSoloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

They appear calm and relaxed

Happy dogs aren’t always overt about their happiness, so if you’ve got a particularly chill dog, don’t worry. Being calm and easygoing are also signs that your furry BFF is content. “Their ears are up and forward, mouth is slightly open, they’re lightly panting, and their eyes are soft,” says Dr. Kass-Williamson.

Next, check out the common dog “facts” that are actually false.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest