This is what your dog’s body language really means
Whether they’re running and playing at the dog park or giving a warning growl, dogs seem like they’re pretty good at communicating with one another, but what do your dog’s facial expressions really mean? Over thousands of years of living with humans, dogs have developed a range of facial expressions, and they’ve become pretty good at communicating with us too.
We have a way to go before dog-to-human interaction is fluent in both directions, but fortunately, there are experts out there who have dedicated their lives to figuring out dog body language and dog expressions. It turns out, there’s a big difference between how your dog talks to other dogs and how it talks to you. Some studies even show that dogs prefer happy human faces to angry ones, so maybe they really do know what we’re thinking!
Making eye contact
A perfect example of the dichotomy between dog-to-dog and dog-to-human facial expressions is eye contact. Between dogs, eye contact signals aggression, according to dog sitting site Wag. Between humans, eye contact is an integral part of communication. We reward eye contact from other humans as well as dogs. After humans domesticated them, dogs developed an array of facial expressions. They also acquired the ability to use their gaze to win approval from and show love for their humans.
Find out more about why your dog stares at you.
Breaking eye contact
Understanding what your dog’s facial expressions really mean also involves knowing what it means when your pooch breaks eye contact. When dogs stare at each other, they’re engaging in a power struggle that won’t end until one or the other breaks the gaze – and a fight could break out. With humans, dogs are perfectly comfortable breaking eye contact, and in no way is it a prelude to trouble. Rather, it indicates a comfortable rapport between a dog and its person.