A bunch of dogs showing one of the signs of being happy or excited.

Signs A Dog Is Happy Or Excited

Dogs are playful animals by nature and enjoy socializing with their owners and other dogs. Dogs have the emotional capacity of a 2 to a 2.5-year-old child, as they experience many emotions like happiness, fear, joy, excitement, or anger. Just like a toddler, they lack words to describe their feelings. So, it is necessary to understand how dogs express emotions, such as the signs a dog is happy or excited.

The most common signs of happiness or excitement in dogs are when they greet you when you get home, expose their belly to you, tilt their head when looking at you, and cuddle up with you on the couch. They show happy facial expressions, relaxed ears, and eyes, a wagging tail, give slurpy kisses, and a revealing smile. Dogs feel even more pleased when they are getting human attention, are praised physically or verbally, by eating a healthy or balanced diet, and having responsible pet owners who look after them.

11 Signs A Dog Is Happy Or Excited

A dog laying on its back looking up at the camera.
This is one happy and excited dog!

Dog’s body language can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking, especially when it comes to happiness or excitement. Knowing these 11 physical signs of joy in dogs will help you understand your pup better and build an even stronger bond with them.

1. Happy Facial Expression

Dogs often display physical signs of happiness or excitement, such as a soft open mouth, pale eyes that are blinking, and skin around the mouth that is smooth. This can be noted in most breeds of dogs; however, it may be more challenging to detect in certain flat-faced breeds, such as Bullmastiffs and Bulldogs.

2. Floppy Ears 

Your dog’s ears feel at ease and happy when relaxed and loose. When your dog is happy or excited, its ears will fall naturally and relax against the side of its head. It may also perk up the ears if it is feeling alert or curious about something in its environment.

3. High And Waggy Tail

A dog’s tail is an important indicator of its emotional state. When your dog’s tail is in a neutral position, it indicates a calm and relaxed state. A slow wag shows insecurity, being neither submissive nor controlling. On the other hand, when your dog is happy or excited, its tail will stay high in the air with rapid and energetic wagging. 

4. Their Body Is Relaxed

A relaxed body is a sign that your pup is feeling secure, confident, and happy. When your dog is lying down with its paws tucked beneath its chest and the tail happily wagging, it shows contentment. Also, when standing up comfortably with their head held high and ears perked up – they are in a positive mood.

5. Happy Barks, 

Happy dogs usually have higher-pitched barks and howl for a shorter period as compared to frustrated or scared dogs. Barking is one way of expressing excitement or joy, and healthy dogs bark out of happiness when they are with their owners. Dogs bark when they are lonely, amazed, scared, irritated, or more too. 

There is a difference in the tone of a dog’s bark when the dog is alone though, and it will make high-pitched barks to request togetherness. More barks indicate it is stimulated, while a single bark shows the dog is frustrated.

6. Soft Gaze 

Your dog’s gaze is a good indicator of its emotional state. When a dog is happy, its eyes and eyelids are open and calm, its gaze is soft, and it will blink often. A hard gaze and squinted eyes indicate aggression, while wide eyes suggest your dog is afraid.

7. Bottom Up And Head Low

When your dog is putting its head down and bottom up into the air, it is known as a play bow. Dogs communicate through play bows to other dogs that they are friendly and want to engage in playful activities. The play bow is a way of reducing conflict and inviting other animals or humans to join in the fun. 

8. Body Tongue Out

Dogs keep their tongue out due to many emotions, including when they are stressed, relaxed, excited, scared, or surprised. When dogs smile, many canine expressions including wide-mouth panting and keeping their tongue out can be noticed. However, dogs also stick their tongue out when they pant, have hanging tongue syndrome, and sometimes severe dental diseases too. So, keep this in mind.

9. Revealing Smile

A dog’s smile is a sign of happiness and joy. When dogs are relaxed and happy, their mouth will open wide, revealing their teeth and tongue. This is often seen when playing with familiar people or animals or in response to being praised or petted.

10. Show Their Belly

When dogs are happy or excited, they may show their belly to the owner as a way of seeking attention and love. This is also an expression of secureness in the environment, obedience, and respect for their owners. The dog often shows its stomach when it wants a belly rub from its human companion. Showing its belly is also a way of seeking aid, feeling a cool breeze, and saying hello.  

11. Lick Its Owner

When a dog licks its owner, it is usually a sign of affection and love. Dogs lick humans to show respect and obedience. They also lick as a way of communication, expressing feelings of joy, pleasure, or excitement.  It is also believed dogs lick their owners to learn more about them since they can gather information on taste, smell, and the owner’s emotions through licking.  When your dog licks you or other people, it often signifies happiness and joy.  

What Are the Causes Of Happiness And Excitement In A Dog?

Some of the most common causes of happiness and excitement in a dog include the following.

Having Verbal Or Physical Praise

Dogs love to hear “good boy” or “well done” from their owners. They feel proud of themselves, and this greatly improves their emotional well-being. Physical praise such as petting or rubbing can also be a great way to show affection for your dog.

Engaging In Physical Exercise

Exercising is a great way to keep your dog happy and active. Dogs need physical exercise for their body to stay healthy and for their minds to remain sharp. Taking them on long walks, playing fetch in the yard, or taking a trip to the dog park are all excellent ways to give your pup the exercise they need while also having fun.

By Providing Mental Stimulation

When your dog is happy or excited, it is mentally stimulated. You can keep your dog busy with interactive toys at home. These toys exercise your dog’s brain by allowing them to lick, explore and chew. 

Toys such as puppy puzzles and activity flip boards are best for mental stimulation. You can keep your dog happy or excited by involving it in fun activities to keep them mentally active. 

Giving A Healthy And Balanced Diet

Giving your dog a high-quality protein diet that provides essential fatty acids, amino acids, active enzymes, and calcium to support your dog’s health will keep it healthy and happy. Dogs of different ages have different demands according to their activity level to meet their food needs.

How To Make A Dog Happier?

Doing these things can help make your dog happier and healthier.

Praise Your Dog For Good Behavior 

Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to praise your dog’s good behavior, as well as ignore the bad behavior you dislike. Doing this ensures dogs understand which behaviors are acceptable while others do not. 

Re-reinforcing good habits in your dogs will save you from many problems. When you praise your dog’s good behavior, spend time with your dog, express your love and forgiveness, and reward them, they will be happy.

Play Games Together

Games are essential to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated. Rough and tumble games and physical activities excite dogs. Dogs enjoy playing tug of war, solving puzzles, playing water games, and hide and seek. 

Playing games with dogs will build a closer bond through teamwork and communication. Dogs feel happy or excited when you play games with them. It will keep them healthy, active, calm, and comfortable.

Explore New Dog Treats

Use a food dispensing toy for your dog’s meal to keep your dog happy and excited. Solving it will be a fun activity and requires mental engagement. Teach your dog some new tricks too, such as crawling, bowing, spinning, going to bed, and cleaning up its toys. Play hidden treat games with a dog to involve physical activities to keep a dog happy and excited.

In Conclusion: Signs A Dog Is Happy Or Excited

Dogs show happiness and excitement in different ways, but there are some general signs your dog is content and enjoying life. Look for wagging tails, relaxed ears, and soft eyes to know your pup is feeling good. When dogs feel happy or excited, they may bark more than usual, pace around the room, or jump up on you to express their joy. 

If you’re ever unsure how your dog is feeling, it’s always best to take them for a walk, play a game together, or give them plenty of physical and mental stimulation. By providing your pup with the necessary love and care, you ensure they stay happy and healthy for years to come!

So what are some of the ways you can tell if your dog is happy or excited? Do they show any specific signs that are unique to your pup? Let us know in the comments below!

Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal is a licensed veterinarian with more than 5 years of experience in veterinary medicine. After receiving his DVM degree from The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, he worked as a veterinarian in both government and private sectors. Dr. Mohsin specializes in small animal medicine and surgery and has experience treating all types of animals including dogs, cats, horses, and reptiles. He has a passion for pets and has written several eBooks on pet care and surgery. In addition to his clinical work, he also volunteers his time for various animal rescue organizations and helps care for injured and abandoned animals.