Soft Puppy, Warm Puppy, Squishy Face of Love… More on Dog Language

This is Squishy Face

This is Squishy Face

So I have been saying for a while now that I would write an article to explain more doggy body language since those of you who are regular readers enjoy learning about it.

It is so hard to try to explain through writing what sometimes has to be seen with the eyes without missing an integral part of the depiction.

We have already talked about the tail and how it comes into play with body language, to catch up on that article click here.

We have talked about how not all dog’s like being petted for more on that click here.

We have discussed how dogs don’t have hands and so they play with their teeth.

And, last but certainly not least we have talked about how kisses and hugs can put you and your children at risk because dogs don’t speak our language be sure to read this one here.

Now it is time to delve into the eyes and what they tell us about a dog’s intentions and his attitude.

First and Foremost

I don’t take just one piece of information to tell me how a dog is going to act or react or when he is going to become aggressive.

I have to assess his facial expression, his mouth, his eyes, his tail, his body posture and his vocalizations in order to be more certain.

But in a lot of ways the eyes really are the window to the soul.

They rarely lie, although to the untrained eye they are easily misinterpreted.

Scary Eye

This is often called the "whale eye" it is a hard eye with lots of white showing.  This is not a face I would be comfortable petting

This is often called the "whale eye" it is a hard eye with lots of white showing. This is not a face I would be comfortable petting

Don’t forget a lot goes into this like body and tail and vocalizations.

But the eyes that scare me the most are the ones that are WIDE open; it almost like you can see the whites completely all the way around.

Please exclude Boston Terriers and Pugs and other breeds with eyes that jut out of their head this is genetics and not intention.

But for dogs with normal eye genetics and composition, this is not normal and is usually a sign of extreme excitement, aggression, or fear.

And, I don’t trust any of those facets.

Obviously aggression is bad.

But a fearful dog will also bite and sometimes so will one that is over excited read more on that here.

Then I look to see if the pupil is dilated.  Dilated pupils are another warning that I pick up on with dogs.  But, I must admit you have to be pretty close to see that, and often with dogs like this you don’t want to be close.

Dilated pupils almost look HARD or glassy and there is usually not a lot of blinking, tail is usually very high (may be wagging) and ears can be either up or back.  Sometimes the mouth is also very tight or stiff forward (growl) or back (snarl).

But hard, dilated, seemingly non blinking pupils are a huge thing for me.

Squishy Face

squishy face, blinking eyes

squishy face, blinking eyes

I like squishy face, as I call it ;)

That is when the dog almost looks at you and melts.

His eyes soften, he begins to blink slowly at you, and he may refuse to stare AT you but kindly blink just a little bit past you.

His mouth, also, may be drawn a little back (showing more submission).

His countenance is warm and welcoming and he appears to be smiling with his whole body; but especially his face.

His tail is usually low and wagging more slowly but not sucked up and tucked.  His ears may be forward or a bit back.

That is the visual I want if I am going to pet a dog.

Actually, I Don’t Pet Many Dogs!

These pupils are seriously dilated and I would not feel comfortable touching this dog either based on this information

These pupils are seriously dilated and I would not feel comfortable touching this dog either based on this information

You’d think as a dog trainer I would run around petting everything… but I have seen aggression and the horrors of dogs who don’t want to be pet.

I have also seen and heard stories of the dogs that bite or maul children.

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE DOGS!!

But I respect them more, and I have gotten to the place where I can read them like books from a mile away.

However, most people can’t.

And, most normal dogs go through both of these with excited or dilated pupils, or sweet faced.

Not all dogs are aggressive, but as we have discussed even an excited dog is closer to biting.

My female dog can be over excited or extremely friendly, that is why I determine her body language and face expression before I allow her to be touched!

So I am hoping to pass along some skills and knowledge and if nothing else teach people that petting isn’t always the best way to greet a dog.

I sweet talk most without looking or getting in their box and if their demeanor doesn’t change to squishy face and wanting interaction I go no further.

I once knew a dog that ripped the nose off of a dog trainer.  Against all warnings this trainer got in the small dog’s face and within moments her nose was taken.  She surely should have known better but sometimes we forget how much damage a dog can do.

Want to know how I knew the dog and her owner??  They competed in Rally Obedience.  Imagine a dog having ripped part of someone’s face off out in public competing.  I am still not comfortable with the idea.

But that should be a firm warning that these dogs are everywhere and she was little and cute not BIG and scary!  I bet most parents would allow their child to run up and pet her… and they would have little  to no warning before the bite was inflicted.

The dog’s body language spoke for itself, but we humans just don’t take the time to learn what they have to tell us.

I personally want to keep all my facial features and body parts intact and sometimes you get little warning.   I have quite a few scars and all have taught me valuable lessons!

Do Yourself a Favor and Learn About Your Best Friend and His Language

Read books, there are all kinds of posters and videos now about dog body language and eyes, and go sit and watch at the dog park and pass this article around on social media so others will learn. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot! I still do!

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  1. Lorraine says:

    My puppies are 2, one always stars at me, he doesn’t seem distressed when I look back and speak to him. I’ve heard ths is not good to do?
    He also will show aggression to otther dogs if the come near me or his sister, have tried everything but he still does it, help!


  2. Joy says:

    We had a 11 1/2 yr old Rotty who from the age of 1 yr did not like other dogs. We used to take him for a walk on his halty (We hate chockers and spike collars) and would have treats with us, so when we came to another dog we would just before getting close would pet the side of his face and tell him TRUST,after the other dog past would say YES, GOOD TRUST and give him his treat. After about a week of this he finally stop trying to get at the other dog and wouldn’t even bark, he litterally ignorned the other dogs.


  3. Rita young says:

    My 12 yr old Shih Tzu began chewing/licking her feet when her 14 yr old “sister” died. It has been about 3 months now. She now has started on her front arm pit. The hair is badly stained. Vet says there is no need for concern. No med needed. They almost constant sound is nerve wracking to all who are not her family (me!) to the point that I hesitate to invite anyone to come visit and I don’t go places we have always gone due to her new “habit”. Help! Please!


    Minette Reply:

    Find a veterinary dermatologist and get a second opinion


  4. Janine Jacobs says:

    I have a 2 yr old Doxiepoo (rescued stray Nov. 2015) and a 2 yr old Cocker Spaniel (rescued stray Feb. 2015) Both are female. The Doxiepoo LOVES to play and wrestle 90% of the time with the Cocker but has to be fed in another room because of fear of losing her food and claims the couch and bed when she’s being cuddled. She feels totally threatened by the Cocker. Her play growling and fight growling is almost the same, so it’s hard to predict when she’s going start a full on fight. So far there’s been no blood on dogs or humans, but it’s unnerving. So we put them both in their crates as a time out. I know you’re not suppose to use the crate as punishment, but they still consider it their dens when they’re open. How do I train her to not be so insecure? She’s typically loving & ultra affectionate. Should we establish the Cocker as the dominant one of the two?


    Minette Reply:

    I wouldn’t put up with any of that. I would crate the Doxie when she eats and not let her out until she is done, but other than that i wouldn’t allow her on the couch or bed until she earns the privilege and is not aggressive.

    I live with 2 dogs that don’t like each other, which means they can coexist with me in the room and they know not to start problems, but can obviously never be left alone together.

    I just don’t allow them to be aggressive when I am around, I am the big dog of the house.


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