How to Tell if Your Dog Is Happy

Are you helping your dog live their best life?

Are you helping your dog live their best life?

Oprah Winfrey was chastised by Instagram users on Mother’s Day when she referred to dogs as “fur children” but, for many, four-legged friends are integral members of the family. Canine companions can even reflect emotional and physical challenges faced by their owners.

Here are five ways to tell if your pup is happy so you can keep that tail wagging…


1. Read their body language

Proof of a pooch’s happiness is not terribly hard to spot. Like humans, dogs are expressive creatures, relying on body language of all types to demonstrate peace and contentment. “Ears forward, tail up and wagging are signs that your dog is happy,” explains Dr. Cynthia Rose of the Granville Island Veterinary Hospital. “Dogs will let us know if they are happy by their behaviour: showing interest in play, being inquisitive, demonstrating affection towards owners and more.”


2. See how they react to their favourite things

A dog’s life may seem carefree, but that’s not always the case. Just like two-legged creatures, four-legged ones can experience stress and anxiety. So how can you tell if something is bothering your pooch? “Tail down, ears back, wide dilated pupils, tremors, changes in sleep patterns, increased aggression, a reluctance to interact with the family and showing less interest in day-to-day activities,” lists Dr. Rose. But don’t panic right away. “Make a list of your pet’s five favourite things to do. If he or she is doing all five with gusto, they are likely happy overall.”


3. Judge them for who they are

Rejoicing in newfound friends can also showcase a dog’s genial nature, but not all pets are the same. “You can draw parallels between introverts and extroverts,” explains Dr. Rose, so social behaviours indicative of happiness may not all look the same. “A dog that enjoys sunbathing all day may have the same degree of satisfaction as a very social dog who wants to wrestle with every dog they meet.”


4. Get to know their individual personality

With dogs, temperaments are unique so don’t expect your pet to behave in exactly the same fashion as one down the block—even if they are of the same breed or claim roughly the same age. “Each dog has a unique personality—just like people. But, for the most part, dogs do tend to be creatures of habit,” says Dr. Rose. “Get to know your dog and understand what brings them pleasure.”


5. Don’t force it

If you’ve just welcomed a rescue to your family or your pet is bouncing back after an illness, the key is not to move too fast. “Patience, consistency and setting realistic expectations are necessary when trying to rehabilitate a pet. Love and time are the best gifts you can give to your pet,” says Dr. Rose. “And both of those are free!”


Save Money and Time

Running low on dog treats can cost you – and not just a little side-eye from the pooch. Often you head into the pet store for two things and come out with seven. Visits can gobble up time and money so the Dawg Pack conserves both. Every three months, invest just $77 and receive up to $150 in value. (One needn’t be an economist to understand that ROI.) Plus Uptown Dawg tests hundreds of new products annually so you can save the trouble of worrying if items are up to standard. “You’ll get industry insiders’ top picks delivered to your home for a fraction of the price,” they promise.

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After all, throwing cash around is not what pets actually crave from conscientious owners. “Love and time are the best gifts you can give to your pet,” says Dr. Rose. “And both of those are free!”