What Your Dog’s Facial Expressions Really Mean

1. Making eye contact

A perfect example of the dichotomy between dog-to-dog and dog-to-human facial expressions is eye contact.

2. Breaking eye contact

Understanding what your dog’s facial expressions really mean also involves knowing what it means when your pooch breaks eye contact.

3. Blinking or squinting during eye contact

Understanding what your dog’s facial expressions really mean also involves knowing what it means when your pooch breaks eye contact.

4. Squinting or blinking in general

You’ve probably wondered why your dog makes weird faces. It could be because something is wrong.

5. Eyebrow-raising

When your dog raises one eyebrow—or both—while making eye contact, it’s a sign of alertness and interest, says Schoeff.

6. Avoiding eye contact

A dog who avoids eye contact is likely having trust issues. “Dogs are aware that eye contact with humans signals trust and comfort,” Schoeff explains.

7. Tilting its head

That adorable head tilt? It’s exactly what it looks like, according to Schoeff: It means your dog is curious.

8. Lowering its head

When your dog lowers or bows its head while gazing up at you, it’s an act of submission, explains Schoeff.

9. Flattening its ears

Watch it: This isn’t a good sign. If you see a dog pulling both ears tight against his head, it could be a sign of aggression or of fear.

10. Yawning

Yes, a yawn could indicate tiredness, Bernal says. But it can also be associated with moments of stress, so look for context clues to figure out what your dog’s facial expressions really mean.

11. Lip-licking

A dog that’s licking its lips can be communicating a desire to submit to its human, Bernal tells us. Or it could indicate anxiety or dehydration, depending on the context.

12. Smiling or grinning

Yes, dogs smile, although it doesn’t necessarily signify happiness, contentment, or agreement.

13. Nose wrinkling

You don’t need a dog expressions chart or canine behavioral specialist to recognize when your dog’s smile is more of a snarl, says Bernal.

14. Grimacing

In humans, we understand the difference between a smile and a grimace. The same applies to dogs.

15. When in doubt, consider Fido’s body language