Do Dogs Smile?
(Info courtesy of Purina)
Social media is full of pictures of dogs appearing to grin, but it seems that, much like with laughing, dogs can’t smile in the same way as humans.
However, dogs can make their faces appear to smile.
This happens when they open their mouths and pull back their lips, letting their tongues lap over their teeth. This “dog smile” usually occurs in situations when they are relaxed and appear happy, which is why dog owners think it is a smile.
These “dog smiles” also often occur in response to a human smile, which is a phenomenon called laughter contagion. Dogs may appear to smile because we smile at them.
How do you know if your dog is happy?
If dogs can’t laugh or smile like humans do, how do they show happiness? Many people think dogs wag their tails to show happiness, but this isn’t necessarily true. Dogs use their tails for a range of communications and the message depends on the tail’s position.
A neutral position, where the tail is naturally held for the breed, means that the dog is relaxed. When dogs drop their tails to a lower position, it’s a sign of submission and anxiety. And when they raise their tails in the air it’s an aggressive or dominant motion. Tail wagging is linked to excitement.
Instead of focusing on whether your dog is smiling or laughing, it makes more sense to look at the dog’s body language and actions to see if they are happy. You can look at the whole body for signs like a wagging tail, an open mouth and a relaxed pose.
Ideas to make your dog happy
Here are some ideas to keep your dog happy and healthy: