How Can You Tell if a Dog is Relaxed?

Adrienne Farricelli

To tell if a dog is relaxed, you will need to take a close look into your's dogs body and catch several behavioral cues.

To tell if a dog is relaxed, pay close attention to your dog. Watch him very analytically and recognize the signs of relaxation. Try to focus on several body parts and then watch him as a whole: with all the puzzle pieces now together, you may be able to draw quite an accurate conclusion. The truth is, dogs communicate with us all the time, only that unlike humans who communicate verbally, dogs talk mostly using their bodies. Are you ready to listen?

How Can You Tell if a Dog is Relaxed?

Let's face it: the better you know your dog, the more likely you'll have a good relationship, as being in tune with your best friend can help prevent the major flaws of miscommunication. Following are several tell-tale signs suggesting that your dog is likely relaxed. Of course, keep in mind context as well, if your dog is in a calm place he'll be more likely to act relaxed versus being in an unfamiliar place with lots of stimulation.

Relaxed Body Language

Posture: a relaxed dog will carry his weight evenly on all fours. His muscles are not stiff nor tense.

Eyes: the eyes of a relaxed dog are soft and the pupils are of normal size.

Mouth: the dog may have the mouth open with the tongue lolling out relaxed. If the mouth is closed, the lips are relaxed.

Ears: the ears should be in neutral position.

Tail: the tail is in neutral position, wagging in a relaxed manner. Caution is needed though, aggressive dog may wag their tail too.

Anxious Body Language

Now, compare the relaxed body language with anxious body language so that you can tell the difference. It may help spotting anxious body language by watching videos on YouTube featuring scared or anxious dogs such as dogs suffering from separation anxiety or dogs who are scared of the vet. Anxious dogs may easily become aggressive if they are forced to interact or provoked, being that they are often very on edge.

Posture: the dog will appear stiff, his weight may be shifted back (defensive) or forward (offensive).

Eyes: the white of the eyes may be showing (whale eyes). You may also notice dilated pupils.

Mouth: the dog may be panting, but the lips are drawn tensely back and the tongue may be tense (spatulate tongue in dogs). You may also notice lots of lip licking and yawning.

Ears: the ears are often carried back as to keep them out of harm's way.

Tail: the dog may keep the tail tucked between the legs or may be wagging it slowly or fast.

Consider the Whole Picture

Of course, these are just general guidelines. Every dog is an individual and may manifest relaxation or anxiety in different ways. Also, don't forget to look at context, is your dog exposed to something that he may be perceiving as anxiety- provoking?