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How To Tell If Your Dog is Happy

Updated: Jun 13, 2023


Two dogs sleeping on white bed

What does a happy dog or puppy look like?


The typical image of a happy dog is one who is running around, barking at this and that, tail straight up wagging vigorously back and forth. The typical image of a happy dog shows one who is full of energy, greeting everyone in sight, playing fetch tirelessly, following their master like a shadow, and sitting on their owner’s feet.


Is that what you think a happy dog or puppy looks like?


I used to think so.

Now I know better.


Now I know that this is an image of a stressed, unhappy dog.


Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of running around, a bark here and there, a wagging tail, energy bursts, warm greetings, playing fetch, or loyalty to their owner. But this is certainly not the norm for a happy dog.


It is the norm for many, many stressed unhappy dogs however.

There are thousands of dogs who are like this all day, everyday. They are always running about, always barking at something, wagging a high tail, getting in everyone’s face, demanding to play fetch, shadowing their owner protectively. These dogs aren’t happy, even though we want to think they are.

These dogs are stressed. They are unable to relax, shut off, calm down. These dogs are always on high alert, letting everyone they see know that they are in charge. They are exhausted from the responsibility of being in charge in a world that they don’t really understand, trying to protect their owners from a world of 1000 threats.


So what does a happy dog look like?


Imagine a dog, sleeping in the cool shade, eyes opening and closing sleepily. Maybe something catches their attention and they raise their head calmly, but then they go back to dozing. They stand up stretch their muscles, yawn, then head to the warm sunshine, or for a drink of water. Then they go sniff around some trees, run around after a ball or with a friend for a few minutes then head back to sniff around then sleep some more. They wag their tail low and slow when they see their owner, but don’t get worked up about their presence or absence.


A calm, relaxed dog is a happy dog.


Some might think that a sleeping dog is sad, depressed or has had its spirit broken. But this isn’t the case at all!

This dog is calm because he knows that he’s not in charge and so he does’t have all the responsibilities that the one in charge does, like protecting the property, defending the pack, and securing food. He knows he is safe, cared for, and that all his needs are met.


Ask yourself what image you have for a “happy dog” and make sure that it is also a “relaxed dog”


Ask yourself: Is my dog calm and relaxed and do they sleep for the vast majority of the day? If you answered no, then your dog is not happy. He or she is stressed.

Do you want to help your dog become a happy dog? I can show you the 5 steps to make that happen. https://www.calmcanine.ca/services


Here’s to You and Your Dog


Elaine

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