There's a reason everyone refers to dogs as being a man's best friend. That reason is true! If you have a dog in your life, I don't have to explain it to you. Dogs are constant companions who never judge you for wearing a messy bun three days in a row, who are always ready to go out and explore the world around them (and sniff a couple butts if they get the chance). If you're extra lucky, your dog is also totally cool with being cuddled on the couch and getting cozy, too.
Simply put: Dogs are the best and they have the uncanny ability to make people very happy. Ideally, we want to make them happy, too. But how can you tell? How do you know if your dog is truly enjoying their life with you?
As it turns out, there are plenty of signs that happy dogs exhibit. If your pup does these things, you can rest assured that they are as happy with their life as you are with a life that includes them.
Here are some of the signs of a happy pup:If you see them in your own dog, it means you're doing a great job. Also, it should be noted that every sign isn't necessarily universal — your dog may be perfectly happy and only exhibit some signs occasionally, or perhaps not at all. If you're at all concerned about your dog's well-being or happiness, be sure to consult with a vet or animal behaviorist.
1. Relaxed Eyes
via: ShutterstockA happy dog will have relaxed eyes and a smooth, unfurrowed brow. A dog opening his eyes very wide — the point that the whites of his eyes are showing —typically means that he is feeling stressed or anxious. Generally speaking, the more relaxed your dog's eyes are, the more relaxed he is.
2. BlinkingSimilarly, a happy dog tends to blink a lot. That's one way that dogs show they are relaxed and comfortable in their environment.
3. Relaxed Ears
via: ShutterstockA happy dog will have relaxed, uncocked ears. Although, if her ears are cocked or pointing, it doesn't necessarily mean she's stressed; she could be listening closely to the world around her.
4. SmilingIt's not just anthropomorphizing— dogs really do smile when they're happy! A happy dog will often open their mouth to the point where they're showing a few teeth (though not baring their teeth aggressively). Their tongue might be hanging out, too, which is extra adorable.
5. Relaxed Body
via: ShutterstockHave you noticed a lot of these signs center around relaxation? That's no coincidence. A stressed or sad dog will most likely not feel safe enough to relax. Conversely, if your dog flops around and gets comfy near you, you can rest assured that he's happy to be around you.
6. Wagging TailYou probably could have guessed this one, right? A happy dog will sometimes hold her tail super high and wag it with such passion she's almost toppled right over!
Low and slow wags are happy ones, too!If your dog is holding her tail in a neutral position or even slightly lower and wagging slowly, that's also a sign of a happy dog — it doesn't always have to be the fast, frantic wag!
However, a wagging tail isn't always a sign of a happy dog.
via: ShutterstockContrary to popular belief, a wagging tail doesn't always indicate that a dog is completely comfortable. Dogs also sometimes wag their tails as a way to deal with stress. Be on the lookout for other happiness signs before assuming a tail wag means all is well.
7. No Destructive Behavior
via: ShutterstockWhen you leave your dog home alone, does he rip up your couch, slippers, his bed, or anything else? If so, it could be a sign that he's not getting enough mental or physical activity, or is possibly suffering from separation anxiety. A happy dog will generally abstain from destructive behaviors.
Of course, some dogs are just fans of making a mess.
via: ShutterstockSome dogs express their happiness by tearing things to shreds — hopefully, it's their own toys that get shredded and not your favorite socks.
8. PlayingHappy dogs love to play! Whether it be with other dogs, with their humans, or even alone with their favorite toy, a happy dog is always up for a play sesh!
9. Play Bows
via: ShutterstockA happy dog will communicate that he's ready to play by going into a play bow. This is when his front legs are down on the ground but his backside is up in the air. You can even do your own play bow if you want to get your pup's attention!
10. Laying Belly-Up
via: ShutterstockIf your pup exposes her belly to you, that means she feels safe and totally at ease in your presence. It's also the perfect opportunity for belly rubs, of course.
Even better if her tongue's out, too!
via: ShutterstockSometimes a dog will show her belly to a rival dog in an act of submission. In those cases, she may keep her mouth firmly clamped shut. If the mouth is open and the tongue is lolling all over the place, rest assured: It's pure happiness.
11. Healthy AppetiteA happy dog will have a healthy appetite. If your dog suddenly starts eating less (or eating more), it's time to see a vet as that can be an indicator of an underlying issue.
12. Happy BarkingSome dogs bark all the time; others will only speak out occasionally. Regardless, a dog's happy bark is usually short and higher-pitched. It may also be accompanied by a smile or other signs from this list.
via: ShutterstockA happy dog will lean into your hand when you pet her. She may also lean against your leg or body even when you're not petting her, just because she loves being close to you.
14. Excited to See YouThis might honestly be the best part of having a dog. Having someone be excited to see you as soon as you come home — even if you stepped out to get the mail.
If your pup comes running, it's because he's thrilled to see you!Which means that he's pretty darn happy with his life. Which should, in turn, make you feel pretty good about yours!
15. Relaxed Tail
via: ShutterstockWe already covered wagging tails, but no dog's tail wags 100 percent of the time. If a dog is happy and relaxed, his tail will be relaxed, too. That means it's not tucked under his backside in fear.
16. DancingHappy dogs love to dance! At least, it may look like dancing. When they see someone (or a dog) that they like, they may start dancing or hopping around in a circle.
17. Lolling Tongue
via: ShutterstockWe've mentioned the lolling tongue in conjunction with other signs of happiness, but it deserves its own entry on the list, too. In addition to making your dog look goofy and adorable, his tongue lolling out of his mouth indicates that he's happy, too.
via: ShutterstockA happy dog will often sleep for up to 16 hours a day. If your dog isn't sleeping that much, it could be a sign of distress. Make sure to make time for nap time!
19. Healthy Coat
via: ShutterstockYou probably knew that your dog's coat can indicate when there's a health problem, but it can also be used as a gauge of how happy your dog is. When dogs are stressed, they can shed like crazy and their fur may feel more brittle than it does otherwise.
Although obviously, these could also be signs of another illness.
via: ShutterstockIf your dog's coat seems to undergo a dramatic change in a short amount of time, it's a good idea to take them to the vet for a checkup!
20. Enjoys Playing with Other Dogs
via: ShutterstockObviously, some dogs are more social than others. In general, happy and well-adjusted dogs will look forward to hanging with their dog friends and will freely engage in play.
21. Enjoys Playing with Other Humans
via: ShutterstockAgain, this one will differ based on the specific dog! But in general, a happy and healthy dog will be comfortable interacting with other humans, too. (Even though you're their favorite.)
Thanks *fur* reading!
via: ShutterstockHopefully, this list *sheds* some light on what to expect from a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. Don't forget — not all dogs will exhibit every behavior on this list 100 percent of the time.
If you're at all concerned about your own dog's well-being, reach out to the professionals.
via: ShutterstockWe are so lucky to have dogs. It's our job to give them the best lives possible. Share this with your favorite dog-lover!