Dog Body Language Posts and Videos

I have grouped many of my posts and videos that deal with dog body language on this page. Some of the topics include dogs being petted, body pressure, resource guarding, play, dog relaxation, and stress and fear signals.

Clara guards the sprinkler
Clara guards the sprinkler (from the post Dog/Dog Resource Guarding in Slow Motion)

Blog Posts with Videos or Photos

Shelter Pup Smiles from “FEAR” After She’s Adopted  This is an analysis of a viral video that claims that a scared puppy doing a submissive grin is “smiling” because she was adopted. Feel free to post it whenever you see misinformation about smiling dogs.

Finding the Joy in Agility  Comparison of Summer’s demeanor and body language in an early agility trial with her body language after she had learned—through training—to love it. In the early trial, she was cooperative but not delighted. In the later trial and other video clips she was having a blast.

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to Be Petted?  Discussion of dog body language that indicates whether or not a dog is enjoying being petted. Includes a video showing two dogs being petted, one of whom is enjoying it and the other of whom is not. Discusses the concept of a Consent Test, a way to tell if a dog is really enjoying something or just putting up with it.

Dogs Who Like to Be Petted or Touched Video resources showing dogs who are enjoying being petted. Includes puppy Clara at 6 and 14 months, and YouTube videos of many different dogs.

Before You Share that “Cute” Dog and Baby Picture…  A mini- rant about the foolishness of sharing dog and baby pictures where the baby is too close to the dog and unprotected, and usually doing something to annoy it. If we could read dog body language better, we would not think most of these are cute at all.

You’re Too Close! Dogs and Body Pressure  Discussion of dogs having their own “space bubble” or personal space, and how they have different senses to others entering their space. Video comparison of dogs with two very different responses.

Dog Facial Expressions: Stress Labeled photos of Clara, my feral dog, at a vet visit. One of my top viewed posts ever. These photos may be used for educational demonstrations. I like it when you tell me about it.

The Right Words, Revealed  How still photos of dog body language can be misleading.

Just Try to Get It! A video with commentary. Video shows some playful, yet serious resource guarding by Clara. Or perhaps just some bratty behavior.

Is My Dog a Drama Queen? Photos of Zani looking moderately stressed—is she stressed or not?

The Look of Fear A video and short discussion of an episode where Zani clearly showed fear of Summer, who was in her crate. I missed the incident but recorded the fallout.

Is that “Smiling” Dog Happy? Pairs of photos of my own dogs with their mouths open. In each pair, one shows the dog relaxed and happy (smiling), and the other, even though the dog’s mouth is open, shows the dog exhibiting stress.

Lip Licks! A comparison of two types of lip licks by dogs. One type is apparently stress related, but the other type probably isn’t.

Dog/Dog Resource Guarding in Slow Motion Slow motion footage of my dogs resource guarding against each other without declining into actual violence.

Which Dog is Resource Guarding? A comparison of two photos, both of which show guarding behaviors. One dog is playing, however. Can you tell which one?

Who Was Resource Guarding? The answer to the question posed in the previous post, along with a discussion of why we need to take resource guarding seriously.

Dog Body Language: Intruder in the Yard! Zani was very bothered by something in the yard that a human may not have even noticed.

Shock Training Session Video Analysis  A second by second analysis of the body language of a dog being trained with the use of a shock collar. (The video has since been removed. Transcript and commentary on the session wherein the dog was shocked 70+ times in 9 minutes is still available.)

Wordless Wednesday: Dog Body Language Study A brief interaction regarding custody of a ball by two of my dogs, and some lively comments.

Contest! The Faces of Summer A whole butt-load of photos of Summer comprising an impossible “match the situation to the photo” contest. Summer’s face is extremely expressive, though.

Contest Results and the Curse of Knowledge A much more useful rendition of the photos that shows their context and describes the situation of each one.

How Can She Possibly be Eating?  A video and discussion of the fact that Clara can still take treats while very stressed and over threshold.

Shut Down Dogs (Part 1) Regarding the cultural confusion that says that dogs who are frozen or shut down from pain or fear are actually calm. Includes a video of my dog Zani during a fear episode.

Shut Down Dogs (Part 2) Continuing the discussion about the confusion between shut down, apathetic dogs and calm and relaxed ones. Has two videos: one a compilation of many YouTube clips of miserable dogs being called “calm” and “relaxed,” (difficult to watch) and the other a compilation of dogs being trained truly to relax with positive reinforcement.

Share My Successes; Share My Failures Has some extremely slow motion footage and stills of my small dog exhibiting stress about being picked up.

How My Dogs Play Features a clip of Clara and Zani playing. Even though the play features a lot of snarling and “bitey-face,” I think it is wholesome and safe (about as safe as dog play can be between two different sized dogs). Good examples of self-handicapping by Clara, the bigger dog.

Summer mid barkWhat is Summer Saying? Observing a Bark Slow motion footage of two small barks by Summer reveals quite a bit.

Please Go Away: Dog Body Language Study: An invitation to play that never got off the ground.

Body Language Study: Fear and What Else?: What’s going on with Summer, Clara, and the mystery critter?

More Body Language Posts

There are more than 30 more on the blog. Here’s an archival list.

Dog Body Language Category

YouTube Videos (without blog commentary)

Dog Turning Circles A video showing the early and later stages of Cricket’s circling behavior when she had canine cognitive dysfunction (dog dementia).

Clara Relaxes A video of an ad hoc training session where I reinforce gradually more and more relaxed behaviors from puppy Clara.

Negative vs Positive Reinforcement A video of my dogs’ very different responses to being taught to perform a behavior with both negative and positive reinforcement.


Canine Cognitive Dysfunction This article has a lot of pictures and videos of canine cognitive dysfunction behaviors. Also lists typical symptoms and has some hints for living with a dog with dementia.

© Eileen Anderson 2015                                                                                                                     

41 thoughts on “Dog Body Language Posts and Videos

  1. Love your video on dogs not liking to be petted. I have a black lab (yes a LAB) who does not enjoy being petted. She was fine as a puppy. But once the hormones kicked in she became more independent and backs away when anyone wants to pet her. Can you teach them to like it? Or at least tolerate it and not move their head or body away? She likes her butt scratched and bell rubbed but of course most people reach for her head first.

    1. Hi jan,
      Sorry for the delay in answering. The answer is yes, you can teach them to like handling and petting. You can use classical conditioning. Here is an article about classical conditioning that explains the concept. You have to make an account on the site to read the article, but the account is free. And here in Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels, (scroll down to Handling), she specifically talks about teaching a dog to enjoy being handled. I do a whole lot of this with my feral dog, Clara. Be sure and do like Sue says, and start with a part of her body where she likes being touched, like you say, her butt. If you start right off with her head, it probably won’t work. Good for you for wanting to help your dog with this.Lots and lots of dogs don’t like strangers or even their own people reaching for their heads.

  2. I found your videos very interesting. I have a dog who resource guards me from people and other dogs. He’s 3 now and I have put a lot of work into helping him which is beginning to pay off but we still have a way to go.

    1. That can be hard to live with, Elaine. Glad you enjoyed the videos. Thank you so much for commenting.

  3. What an excellent resource for a uneducated dog lover to have stumbled upon. My dog teaches me much, but your photos and videos will help me to be a much better pupil. I am blessed to have a loving patient dog, who is willing to explain things over and over, but how lovely to watch the dog companion I hope to become. and I love your dementia piece. I work with the demented elderly and it put such a smile on my face to see that across species, all we need is love, and a little guidance when we are in a situation we don’t understand. Thank you so much. I hope to see more!

    1. Thanks, Leslie! I’m so glad when my posts and vids can be helpful. My mother had Alzheimers. Little Cricket and my mom both showed me that there is still a “person” in there, even when dementia is fairly severe. Bless you for your work with people with dementia.

  4. Thank you for the great videos! I am the founder of RunningDog, a non profit that trains runners and then pairs them with the adoptable dogs in local shelters and rescues. I will be sharing your videos to our group! The safety of our volunteers is our top priority and understanding the language of dogs that we don’t know is the first step. Thank you so much!

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