Woof Wednesday: How Dogs Show Happiness


It goes beyond the wagging tail or the slurping face-lick. Canine happiness can be expressed in many ways. In fact, our dogs show their love toward us in a variety of ways (here are 14 ways cats show love, too!).

We should think about our pets’ happiness every day, not just on special occasions like Valentine’s or Mother’s Day. It doesn’t take much to treat them with love.

It’s important to remember that pets are individuals with unique personalities. They’re like furry snowflakes, with no two alike. Here are some examples of how dogs show us they’re happy.

How do your dogs show happiness? How many kinds of tail wags do they have (check out the Ask Amy below). Do they play a special game, or beg attention, or dream with their furry toes a-twitching as they chase dream squirrels? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!


Woof Wednesday: How Dogs Show Happiness — 12 Comments

  1. Nice job on this post, Amy! Your video reassured me about tail-wagging. Of course, I also checked out kitty love as mine is a canine-feline household. As I’ve said before, I enjoy this blog as a way to keep me current with my pets.


    • Jenny, I know–if the little guy came to visit here, Magic would look for the squeaker inside. *s* Lucky for me they’re just pictures or I’d have adopted a houseful by now.

  2. I think that’s the hard part for those who don’t “speak dog” – there are just so many cues to pay attention to. With other people, you usually just sort of KNOW. Of course, given my social issues I was often the other way around – I find animals easier to read than people most of the time. Part of my self-training has been watching videos of animals, and trying to tell myself exactly what it is that I’m looking at that lets me know what that animal is thinking. it’s come instinctinvely to me for so long, I have to backtrack so I can explain it to other people.

    In my time as a shelter volunteer (which I seriously want to get back to if I ever have real free time again) I dealt with at least a few people who didn’t know what play-growls were. For me it’s easy to tell the difference, even just by the sound. But to them, it looked like the dog was being aggressive. I have to train myself to realize WHY it’s more difficult for others to understand these behaviors, since I guess I sort of take for granted that it comes so easily to me. It’s funny how things get ingrained so you don’t know how to explain them anymore.

    • Karyl, you’re so right! Every dog is different and context is incredibly important when it comes to signals they use to communicate. Some breeds growly-talk a lot!

      • I think it’s even more the case with cats, my personal theory is because they came out of an animal that’s usually solitary in the wild so they haven’t developed quite as universal a language as dogs, even though they have become social creatures now. I still need to make my little how-to video on telling when your cat is sick – one of the big points I want to hit on is that knowing YOUR cat’s normal behavior is one of the most important things.

  3. Hi Amy! The blog looks great with your books all lined up!
    I’ve had dogs most of my life and learned to read them well. I know this is Woof Wednesday, but I’m wondering something about my cat. Sometimes he shakes his tail the way a rattlesnake does and it up straight in the air, though he’s one whose tail is always straight up. I though maybe it means he’s excited. What would you say about that?

    • Hi Marcia, Yes from what you describe that’s arousal of some type. Cats also do this, though, when they back up to an object in preparation to spray urine. Just sayin’ . . . 🙂

        • Cats (and dogs too) are all about playing poker–that is, bluffing and “acting out.” Dogs sometimes will leg-lift even when they have no “juice” left to deposit, just to show other dogs they have the ability to mark/own territory. So that might be part of the display.

          Even neutered cats, both male and female, will sometimes spray so being fixed or intact isn’t necessarily the deciding factor. Since your kitty is NOT spraying, the tail-tremble I’d interpret as excitement. *shrug*

          • Thanks so much, Amy. It was just a curiosity. He does it occasionally when he’s in one of those race-around-the-house moods. He’d find me, rub on leg, tease me by ‘hiding’ from me and pouncing, then shake his tail and race off. He’s pretty hilarious sometimes.

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