12 Signs That Your Dog Is Happy (And 6 That Show When It Isn’t)

We all know and love dogs as man’s best friend. But just because they’re unconditionally loving and affectionate doesn’t mean we should ignore signs that they’re not as happy as they could be. To help you make sure your canine companion is feeling its best, this list covers 12 signs that your dog is happy and 6 that it isn’t.

Relaxed Body Posture

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Happy dogs will typically have loose, relaxed muscles and show no signs of tension. They’re also likely to lie down or roll over if they feel happy and comfortable in your presence. On the other hand, if it appears tense and rigid, this could be a sign that something is making it uncomfortable.  

Soft, Bright Eyes

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It’s true what they say—eyes are the windows to the soul. A happy dog will usually have soft, bright eyes that aren’t tense or squinting. Intense staring can be interpreted as a sign of aggression, unease, or hostility in dog language, while friendly, light eye contact is nothing to worry about.

Tail Wagging

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In the vast majority of cases, a loose, wagging tail can be taken as a sign of happiness and relaxedness. However, contrary to what some people think, not all forms of tail wagging are a positive indication. According to the FACE Foundation for Animals, different types of wagging can be a symbol of fear, insecurity, or aggression.

Playful Behavior

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Dogs who feel comfortable and happy will often initiate playtime with their owners and other pups. So if your dog is regularly bringing you toys, play-bowing, or chasing with others, this is a good sign that they’re probably healthy and in good spirits.

Good Appetite

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Contented, healthy dogs will have no problem eating regularly and consistently without signs of fear or hostility. One exception can be that your dog simply isn’t a big fan of the food you’ve provided, so you may want to try different types of dog food if this is the case.

Regular Sleeping Patterns

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Happy dogs will usually fall asleep fairly quickly and sleep through the night. Having a dedicated sleeping area is a good way to ensure your pup feels comfortable and secure when they rest. If your dog is happy, it should also wake up seeming energized and eager to start the day.  

Frequent ‘Zoomies’

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As noted by Psychology Today, a dog’s famous “zoomies” are typically a sure sign of joy, excitement, playfulness, and vitality. If your dog is known to find a sudden burst of energy to zoom, jump, or spin around, it’s likely that they feel relaxed and happy in their life with you.

Happy Sounds

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Dog vocalizations can mean many different things, so it can be hard to determine whether they’re a good, bad, or neutral indication. However, happy dogs are known to make noises such as light barks, excited whimpers, and contented sighs. As you get to know your dog better, you’ll more easily pick up what these sounds may mean.

Shows Affection

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Dogs who are in good spirits will often feel the urge to seek out affectionate contact, such as nuzzling, cuddling, or leaning on you. If your canine companion frequently asks for pets or seems to enjoy it when you show them your love, this is a good sign that they’re happy and relaxed.

Relaxed Facial Expressions

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Contented canines often make specific facial expressions that reflect their happy mood, such as a slightly open mouth and happy eyes that give the impression that they’re “smiling.” However, you should always be sure to examine these displays in relation to other signs, as there can be some overlap between happy and anxious expressions.

Responsive to Environment

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Dogs that feel happy and relaxed will typically display a healthy amount of curiosity for their surroundings and other people or dogs around them. If they take the initiative to sniff around, happily approach others, and interact with their environment, this is a good sign that they’re comfortable and content.

Smooth Coat

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According to VCA Animal Hospitals, happy, healthy dogs will usually have a shiny, well-maintained coat that reflects their well-being. On the other hand, a neglected coat can be a sign of illness or mistreatment. You can help keep your dog feeling its best by grooming it regularly and making sure you’re meeting any breed-specific needs.

Change in Appetite

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Now let’s take a look at a few ways you can tell if your hound is unhappy or uncomfortable. If your dog suddenly seems to be more or less hungry than usual, this may be a sign that something is making them uncomfortable or unhappy. You may also want to visit the vet to make sure there isn’t anything wrong with their health.

Altered Sleep Patterns

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Dogs who sleep for shorter or longer than usual may be suffering from a low mood or health issues. It’s a good idea to check to see if their sleeping area is as comfortable and undisturbed as possible, and consider taking them to the vet if you’re concerned they may have problems with their health.

Loss of Interest in Toys or Activities

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While happy dogs will usually be proactive in bringing you toys and engaging in play, unhappy dogs may appear disinterested and unenthusiastic. This could be a sign of depression, especially if they used to enjoy playing with the same toys in the past. However, as noted by Canna-Pet, this could also be a simple indication that they’ve gotten bored with their current toys and would benefit from some new ones.

Reduced Desire for Play or Exercise

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Similarly, dogs suffering from a low mood may display less interest in activities such as walking and playing. Take note of whether this disinterest is out of character for your canine companion. If it is, it could be a good idea to get them checked over by a vet.

Hiding or Cowering

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If your dog is feeling anxious, uncomfortable, or sad, they may show physical signs of distress, such as hiding or cowering. This can be a sign that they’re trying to make themselves appear as small as possible out of a state of fear or overwhelm.

Sudden Aggression

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Dogs who suddenly snap at other dogs or people may do so because they’re feeling fearful, threatened, or uncomfortable in some other way. This is especially true if your canine companion has never acted out in this way before. If their behavior is becoming concerning, you may want to have them checked over by a vet.

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