“Is my dog happy?” is a question that many pet owners ask themselves. When you see an excited dog wagging its tail and jumping all over the place when you get home from work, you know that your dog is happy. If you come home and see your dog acting pretty cool or taking some time to warm up to you, you might wonder if there is something wrong. Though you may find it hard to believe, there are some signs that you can look for that indicate your dog is happy and some things you can do to increase its happiness.
Signs of a Happy Dog
- Relaxed Eyes – Relaxed eyes are a clear sign of a happy dog. Your dog’s eyes should be bright and open.
- Relaxed Mouth – If your dog growls or lifts its mouth into a snarl, it’s a clear sign that your pet isn’t happy. Though some dogs will snarl or move their lips when people get close, it should typically have a relaxed look to its mouth.
- Comfortable Ears – The term comfortable ears means that the dog’s ears sit in a neutral position. The way the ears looks depends on the individual breed. Some dogs have ears that stay perky and upright all the time, but others have ears that hang down loosely.
- Relaxed Body Stop asking – “is my dog happy,” and just look at your dog as he relaxes on the floor or his bed. If your dog stretches out fully or relaxes into a comfortable position, you’ll know your pet is happy.
- Tail Position – Always look at the position of your dog’s tail and what that tail does. A happy dog will have a tail that moves around as the dog grows excited.
- Attitude – A happy dog is one that you can leave alone for hours without coming home to a mess. Unhappy dogs may attack everything from furniture to walls.
- Activity Level – Active dogs are generally happy. An unhappy dog will act in the same way that a person suffering from depression would, including avoiding play time and sleeping a lot.
- Appetite – A good appetite is another sign of a healthy dog. Your dog should eat its food regularly and not space the food out or eat a small amount.
- Involvement with Others – The happiest dogs in the world are those that love their masters and owners. A clear sign of a happy dog is that it wants to play with and be around others.
- Excitement – Excitement is another sign of happiness in dogs. This can include excitement over a car ride, a new toy or just hearing a family member come home.
- General Health – You also want to look at the general health of your dog. Diarrhea, constipation and vomiting are all signs of an unhealthy dog.
Signs of Stress
- Ears that go back or sit flat on the dog’s head
- Turning its head away when you attempt to pet it
- Avoiding eye contact with loved ones
- Licking the air around its face and/or constantly licking its nose
- A sudden and unexplained lack of appetite
- Sleeping more
- Isolating itself away from the family and other pets
- Suddenly acting out or becoming aggressive around family pets or family members
- Hiding in corners of the room and/or behind furniture
- Frequent or constant yawning
- Acting out and destroying things around the house
- Constant biting of its own legs and body parts
How We Contribute to Our Dog’s Stress
- Letting our own emotions spill over onto our dogs
- Hugging or tightly squeezing certain breeds
- Spending too much time on training without showing enough affection
- Giving dogs mixed signals or confusing signals
- Waking dogs up from a heavy sleep for walks or play time
- Bringing in new guests or unfamiliar people
- Emotional outbursts such as fighting with a spouse or partner
- Changing the set or established routine, including changing feeding times or adjusting bathroom schedules
- Leaving dogs trapped inside the house for too long
- Not providing dogs with enough attention or affection
Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Happiness
The best way to improve your dog’s overall happiness is with a few simple changes. Never take out your emotions on your dog, and never let the problems you have with others in the home affect that pet. If there are certain things or activities you do that leave your dog feeling stressed, you can cut back on those actions. Positive reinforcement can also help. Reward your dog with a belly rub, a small treat or a new toy when it shows signs of happiness. You may need to adjust the length of your training sessions to let your dog work less and have more fun.
Dogs are loving and affectionate creatures, but changes in your established routine can leave dogs feeling unhappy and even stressed. These dogs are more likely to have accidents inside the house and spend time away from you and other loved ones. If you frequently come home to find your dog hiding in another room or taking steps to avoid you, you have an unhappy pet on your hands. When you know the signs of a happy dog and the signs of an unhappy dog, you can watch your own pet and determine whether it is happy. Feel confident making simple changes to your set routine to give your dog a much happier attitude.