Your dog has a wide range of facial expressions that he utilizes to communicate efficiently with you and other canines he meets. Regularly monitoring these expressions in play or, conversely, when he’s worried or threatened can provide you with valuable insight into your dog’s mental state, especially when other body language signals and the scenario are taken into account.
You can judge how your dog is feeling and become significantly more proficient at defusing potentially stressful situations by learning to pick up on his expressions early enough in an engagement.
The Expressions on Your Dog’s Face
The ferocity of a dog’s bite can be determined by his growl, according to studies. Growl frequency patterns for 21 breeds were measured by American and German researchers. Regardless of the dog’s head shape, larger canines’ growls tend to have more tightly spaced patterns. This information is supposed to be used by dogs to judge each other’s strength.
The mouth of a cheerful, confident dog is slightly open, and part of his tongue may be visible.
If your dog’s mouth is clinched tightly shut and his head is turned away from anything he’s witnessed, it’s a sign that he’s uneasy and anxious. It’s more of a calming than an aggressive motion.
A dog who keeps his lips shut but looks ahead with his ears slightly up is interested in what he sees.
The dog has heard something and is trying to figure out what it is by standing still with his jaws shut and ears straight up.
Your dog will drop his head and pull his ears back if he is terrified of something. The lips are a little slack or a little pulled back.
Your dog’s lips will fold back to reveal his fangs and gums. After other, more subtle signs, such as looking away, have failed, he will frequently do this.
When a dog opens his lips, wrinkles his nose, and exposes all of his fangs, it’s a final warning that he’s about to bite.
Tip for a Happy Dog
Your dog uses his mouth and teeth to hunt, eat, explore, and pick up objects, as well as to defend himself (and you!) from real and imagined threats. Because his muzzle, whiskers, and neck are extremely delicate, always be cautious when petting him in these areas.
Some dog breeds, such as Dalmatians, Dobermans, and numerous Terrier varieties, are known as ‘smilers,’ as they frequently greet their owners with their jaws slightly open, revealing the incisor and canine teeth.
Because canines never greet other dogs in this manner, some owners worry that this is an indication of aggressiveness against people, although it is actually a submissive gesture.