Although dogs do not speak the way humans do, they have no problem expressing their feelings and needs in other ways. Their emotions are simpler than those of their human companions. Understanding them is a matter of paying attention, training and getting to know your dog in order to comprehend what they are trying to tell us with any particular action or behavior.
Much of a dog’s behavior is based on instinct and not necessarily feeling in the way we think of it as humans. Ask anyone who loves a dog though, and they can tell you instances of their dog exhibiting what seems like almost human behavior and definite emotion, but it is different than ours. Dogs are very good communicators when we take the time to understand what they are saying to us in their own way.
Body language is a more subtle way of communicating, but everything from the position of your dog’s ears, what they are doing with their tail, their body stance, or their eyes can relay feeling and need depending on what they are doing.
A frightened dog or one who has done something they know is wrong may tuck their tail between their legs in submission. An angry dog might put his ears back and exhibit an in-your-face offensive stance. A relaxed, happy, secure or submissive dog may roll on his back exposing his belly to you. A hungry dog might pace back and forth, or anxiously stand or sit near their bowl. Eye contact or lack of it can be a challenge or sign of submission or respect. A dog’s body language communicates a great deal of what they are feeling.