We all sometimes wish our dogs could talk. It would make life a whole lot easier. Fortunately, even though they can’t speak, there are ways to tell our dog’s feelings. Labradors are expressive canines. How our dog’s act is a tale-tell sign of how and what they feel. The better you can read your Labs body language, the more chances you have of knowing what makes them happy. It is important to learn how to interpret your dog’s body language and behavior to decipher his state of mind and happiness.
You no longer have to guess how your dog feels; all you have to look out for these signs to know if he is happy:
A happy dog will frequently have a slightly open mouth and sometimes appear to smile. This is a natural position for a Labrador, and you are likely to spot him with his mouth slightly open quite often. Scared or submissive dogs keep their mouths shut or pull their lips away from their teeth. A comfortable Labrador will display a relaxed open mouth and will have their tongue hanging outside of it. These signs help you as the owner to be keen on your dog, especially when he starts displaying early signs that something is bothering him. Panting with an open mouth shouldn’t be mistaken for a smile. It could be a sign that your Labrador is overheating or stressed.
When your Labrador is happy, you will see his tongue gently lolling out when his mouth is open. It should look very natural and relaxed. Make sure he isn’t lip-licking, especially when there is no food around as it may be a sign he is afraid. A submissive grin followed by lip licking with no incentive may be a sign that your dog is not settled.
When your dog is happy, his tongue will loosely hang out, allowing him to pant.
When your dog is happy, his eyes will be relaxed. Relaxed eyes simply men they will look normal without too much white of the eye showing. Your dog will blink often, and his gaze will be soft. If your dog stares at you intensely with the white part of his eye showing, then he isn’t relaxed. It may also indicate that he may be frightened. Narrowed eyes and a hard gaze are an indication of aggression.
Naturally positioned ears
Labrador’s ears usually are pointing up or flopping over. Even with breeding, despite the degree of flopping over varying, Labrador’s ears are very expressive. A happy dog’s ear position is naturally resting. When your dog ears are raised, it means he is alert and listening, and when they flatten them, it means he is being submissive or feeling scared.
The play bow is one of the most common body languages that we easily recognize from our dogs. A happy, playful dog will bend their front paws, thereby lowering their front end and keep her rear in the air. The play bow is a gesture that your dog wants to interact or play with you, and he is definitely happy.
A wagging tail, unlike common belief, is not always a sign of happiness. It could be a sign that your Labrador is feeling threatened, especially if his tail is held high and stiff and swishes it slowly from one side to another.
Naturally, a happy dog’s tail will sway from side to side rapidly and involve his whole body. The movement will be smooth and flowing, and his tail will look relaxed. In the absence of a wagging tail, your dog is probably not happy.
Relaxed tail carriage
When your Labrador is happy and comfortable, his body is relaxed as well as his tail. Generally, a happy dog will raise his tail but not too high because that would indicate the dog is overstimulated or agitated. If his tail is tucked between his hind legs, it means that your dog is scared.
Happy dogs don’t need to sway their tails to show they are happy. They will simply relax in their natural position, usually around their hocks. As they walk, you will notice loose movements, and their back end will sway easily.
Happy dogs aren’t likely to act naughty or destroy things around your home because they engage in enough mental and physical stimulation. Chewing, for example, is normal for dogs since they use their mouths to survey their surroundings. Excessive chewing, however, could be a sign that your dog is bored or unhappy. Generally, most destructive behavior by a dog is a sign of unhappiness or boredom.
Other causes of destructive behavior could be teething, separation anxiety, fears, and phobias, attention-seeking, or play behavior.
Happy and content Labradors have a good appetite. A drop in appetite could be a sign that something is wrong. A poor appetite could be a sign that either he is not feeling well, or he is experiencing anxiety or stress. If he isn’t eating at all, you should consult your vet as the problem is more serious. An unexpected increase in appetite also signifies a symptom of a disease.
Your dog may expose his belly to you when his mouth is slightly open, lightly panting and wagging his tail. This is a sign that your dog trusts you, and he would be delighted to get a belly rub. This show of trust directly displays contentment and happiness.
One of the easiest ways to tell if your dog is relaxed is to look at how he carries himself. A loose gentle wiggly body means your dog is happy and content. Your dog isn’t comfortable when his body is tense, stiff, or tight. Not all dogs are overtly happy if your dog is particularly relaxed rest easy. Calm and easygoing are also characteristics of a content and happy canine.
Enjoying playtime and walks
Naturally, dogs slow down with age; however, If your dog is reluctant or abnormally quiet during playtime and walks, then something is definitely amiss. They are likely unwell or injured, and you should consult a doctor.
A lot of sleeping
Healthy, happy adult dogs sleep for up to 16 hours a day. If his sleeping schedule isn’t adequate, it could be a sign that your dog is stressed. A relaxed dog sleeps well but a stressed dog will get up, pick a new spot fall asleep then repeat. Poor sleep patterns affect your dog’s health.
Friendly to others
Labradors, like people, have different personalities. Every dog’s preference for company differs. If your dog is social at the park with other pets and people, it’s a sign that he is happy. If he is overly aggressive with new animals and people, then he is in a bad mood.
Leans into you
When you pet your dog, it is natural for him to happily lean into you. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, he will lean into you or your touch and keep eye contact. Walking away or staying out of reach is a sign that he needs space.
Usually, a happy bark is higher pitched than an agitated bark. Happy dogs also bark for a shorter period of time. Happy barks should align with relaxed body carriage and a relaxed mouth; otherwise, it is easy to misread it.
A happy laugh? Believe it or not, dogs do have their own version of a happy laugh. In 1949, Konrad Lorenz wrote in a book Man Meets Dog and explained that when the corners of a dog’s mouth are loose, and he starts panting fast, he is basically laughing.
Another researcher, Patricia Simonet, recorded the forced breathy exhalation made by dogs when playing through their mouths, which she believed, was dog laughter.
Thrilled to see you
A happy dog is always excited to see their owner when they get home when you wake up and even keep an eye out for you at the dog park as they play. Research shows that when a dog is exposed to the scent of their owners, their happiness receptors and value judgment spiked in activity.
A healthy coat with a sheen is a sign that your dog is happy. When a dog is stressed, the signs clearly show on his coat, such as excessive shedding, skin flakes, dandruff, and itchy skin. Skin and coat problems are a sign of infection or disease, and you should take him to a vet.
You may have noticed your dog hoping or bouncing from side to side when they are excited. Sometimes they even do this when on their hind feet, and they look like they are dancing with excitement, especially when they see someone they like. These quick movements are a sign that your dog is happy and ready to play.
How to respond to your Labrador’s happy gestures?
Now that you know your Labrador is happy, you should positively respond to help build the bond and strengthen the relationship you share with your pet. A positive, happy response lets your dog know that he makes you happy.
Here are easy ways to appropriately respond to your Labrador’s happiness:
Rub his ears and head
Whenever your dog gives you that earnest round eye stare and shows you he is happy, gently rub the top of his head and behind his ears. A gentle rub makes your Labrador feel loved, and it soothes him.
Studies have shown that dogs can differentiate human emotions from our facial expressions. Dogs integrate visual and oratory inputs to understand and differentiate human emotion. This means that when your dog smiles at you and you smile back, he can understand the happy gesture.
This helps you bond more with your dog and saturates the positive energy around both of you.
Give him a pat
When your Labrador approaches you wagging his tail, giving smiley expressions and making eye contact, give a great response like a good pat. Patting encourages him and shows him that you are happy with him.
Feed him treats
Unexpected treats after a great show of happiness are encouraging for you, Labrador. If he is around you all the time, give him some delicious treats. He may be a little hungry. Trust me, he’ll love you even more.
Play with your Lab
When your dog needs attention, he will give off some signals such as the play bow, furiously wagging his tail and jumping a lot. Note these signals as a cry for attention and see to them. Spare a few minutes to indulge him and play with him.
Understanding your Labrador’s body language and behavior opens up a wonderful window into his world that allows you to identify his emotions, especially when he is happy. This way, it is easier to keep him content and happy more often. Encourage him to be more expressive by giving your dog a pat, treats, and playing with him.