You can learn a lot about your dog’s internal state by looking at the eyes. First, a dog’s eyes can be soft or hard. Soft eyes have relaxed lids and sometimes look like the dog is squinting. They indicate the dog is calm or happy. The opposite is hard eyes where the eyes seem to go cold. These indicate a negative state of mind, and you’ll know them when you see them. The dog might be guarding a toy or feeling aggressive. A hard stare, where the dog looks intently at something, especially for a long time, usually signals a threat.

Eye contact is an important signal for dogs. Just as the hard stare can be a precursor to aggression, looking away is meant to calm a situation. When dogs feel stressed, they will pointedly look away and avoid eye contact. People often interpret this as their dog ignoring them or being stubborn, but the dog is expressing discomfort.

The whites of the eyes are another key indicator. Known as “whale eye”, when a dog shows the whites of the eyes, it’s a signal they are feeling anxious or stressed in a situation. You might see them when you make your dog uncomfortable, like when you pat your dog on the head, or when they’re afraid someone will steal a bone or toy.

Deciphering Dog Body Language

None of these dog body language signals act alone. They are all part of a package. So, when you read a dog’s communication, look at every signal the dog is using from the tail height to the eye shape. Your dog is “talking” to you all the time. If you learn what your dog is saying, you will develop a deeper bond of trust and respect. Plus, your newfound understanding of your dog’s emotional state will help you predict your dog’s behavior and prevent problems before they occur.

Source: American Kennel Club

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