Dogs give lots of clues about how they are
feeling if we only know what to look for. You can have lots of
fun being a dog detective and looking for clues about how a dog
might be feeling.
Dogs have feelings and they can be happy,
sad, worried, wanting to play or wanting to be left alone, just
like you do. It is never a good idea to go up to a strange dog,
so no matter how happy or friendly a strange dog seems, just
ignore him and be a tree if he comes close or bothers you.
You probably have friends or family with
dogs and maybe you even have a dog of your own. Even these dogs
that you know well may not want to play or be petted sometimes.
You can tell how the dog is feeling by his body language. If a
dog is happy then he may want to meet you or interact with you,
if he is not feeling happy, then he would rather be left him alone.
Sometimes dogs want to be petted and
sometimes they don't. You might like to have a good night cuddle
with a parent, but you certainly wouldn't want your parent to
run out onto the soccer field or the dance class in the middle
of a practice and give you a big hug, would you? There is a time
and a place for interacting with dogs as well. They don't like
to get hugs and kisses, but sometimes they want to sit and be
petted or to play and sometimes they don't.
Here are some photos that show the same dog
presenting 2 different emotions, with arrows pointing to the body part clues that show
whether he is happy and relaxed or not. A dog
that is happy and panting and wagging his tail may want to
interact with you. If he closes his
mouth and looks serious as you approach, then
he has changed his mind. It is better to leave him alone
and let him come to you if he decides he wants to be near you.
Remember, we are talking about dogs that you know. Be sure a parent
is around to supervise and give permission to approach the dog. Ignore
strange dogs even if they do seem friendly.
You may notice that sometimes the arrow
points to a tight or loose leash rather than a body part. A tight leash
tells you that the dog is not relaxed. Stay away from a dog on a