How to Check if a Dog is Happy


Indications of potential happiness in dogs include a closed mouth, panting and tail wagging. If your pooch exhibits any of these body language signals, it could mean he's content. These things also often signify the simple desire for playtime.

Happy Body Language Clues

Some common body language clues that frequently denote happiness in the canine species include:

  • Shining eyes.
  • Swiveling ears. 
  • Closed mouth.
  • Mouths ajar.
  • Tail wagging that points to the right.
  • Eager tail wagging.
  • High tail wagging to and fro.
  • Tails hitting the ground.
  • Raised tails.
  • Body positioning that's free of tension.
  • Panting.
  • Play bowing with a wagging tail, an elevated behind and lowered front end. 

Don't make the mistake of believing that tail wagging is exclusively a happy sign, however. If your dog wags his tail, it often denotes anxiety. When they wag their tails toward the left, it often signifies apprehension. Context is essential for understanding what a dog means when he wags his tail.

Sleeping Patterns

Body language indicators aren't the only things that can help you determine whether or not your dog is happy. Observing sleeping patterns can help as well. If your dog is happy, he'll likely sleep for 8 to 10 hours a day. This sleeping should take place primarily during the night. Content dogs rise early with the goal of acquiring food.

Behavioral Clues

Behavior can denote happiness in dogs as well. If your dog is content, he'll probably show these behaviors and signs:

  • Trying to get acknowledgement and attention from you.
  • An appreciation for social interaction, playtime and outdoor walks.
  • Strong relationships with fellow pets in the household. 

Happy dogs thrive on day-to-day activities such as outside exploration, chewing on beloved toys and simply being around humans and other animals.

Indications of Unhappiness

Knowing common signs of unhappiness can be helpful for identifying your dog's moods and emotions. If your dog is upset or generally discontent, you might notice hints including:

  • Excessive sleeping every day.
  • Disturbed nighttime sleeping.
  • Behavioral troubles such as destructive actions and excessive barking.
  • Frustrating attention-seeking actions.
  • Excessive food intake.
  • Absence of vigilance.
  • Reduced curiosity.
  • Lifeless and empty eyes.
  • Distant behavior.
  • Clingy behavior.
  • Crouching posture. 


  • If you suspect your dog is unhappy, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to make sure a health problem isn't the cause. An unhappy dog is often one who is suffering in physical discomfort or pain. If your dog is perfectly healthy, your vet may be able to suggest things you can do to turn his unhappiness around. Regular exercise can often help to reduce stress and tension and improving your dog's happiness.

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