German Shepherd Body Language – How To understand GSDs Body Language

German Shepherd Body Language

German Shepherds, like most dogs and animals, convey their emotions through body language instead of vocalizing them. The key to understanding your German Shepherd is to decode their movements and posture. Here is your guide to doing German Shepherd Body Language successfully:

What Do Your Dog’s Eyes Tell You About Their Mood?

Eyes are considered the windows to the soul, and this doesn’t apply to just humans. You can tell a great deal about how your German Shepherd is feeling by watching their eyes.

Why Is Your German Shepherd Staring at You?

If your pooch is staring at you intensely but isn’t showing any other signs of distress, they probably want you to pay attention to them. For example, they may sit still in front of you and try to catch your eye if you are busy.

If you see your pup focusing on you while you are talking to them or trying to teach them something is a good sign. It is an indication that they are paying attention to what you are saying. If you are teaching them commands or tricks, they may pick it up that much sooner as well.

If your German Shepherd’s eyes are half-closed while they are gazing at you, they usually want something you have. In most instances, you will see this look on your dog’s face if you are eating and they want some of it.

In case your pup’s gaze is focused on someone else or another animal, be wary. It shows that your German Shepherd is alert and potentially views the other person or animal as a target. At such moments, it is best to walk away with your dog.

What Does It Mean When Your German Shepherd Looks Away?

German Shepherd Looks Away

Dogs will traditionally only stare down at people or dogs they are showing defiance to. In the animal kingdom, this is done to assert dominance. If your German Shepherd looks away from you, it is a sign of submission – they accept you as the alpha.

In some instances, this could also be a way of your dog disengaging with you. If you are trying to get their attention or attempting to get them to do something, looking away is your dog’s way of telling you that they aren’t interested.

You may notice that your German Shepherd may even move away and settle down elsewhere after redirecting their gaze. If so, it is best to leave them alone for now and give them their space.

Why Do German Shepherds Squint?

If you have ever noticed your German Shepherd squint or slowly blink at you, you may have wondered what this means. The implication of this depends entirely on the situation.

For example, if it is just your pup and you are alone in a calm environment, your dog is probably trying to get your attention.

On the other hand, if you are somewhere loud, agitated, or your dog is surrounded by people that he doesn’t know, it could signal agitation. Your dog isn’t comfortable and you may want to consider removing them from the area so that they can calm down.

Should You Be Worried If Your German Shepherd’s Eyes are Darting Around?

Your German Shepherd will have their head on a swivel if they are in a new environment or if they feel wary about the current situation. You may notice this behavior if your dog is in the presence of someone new or around other animals.

Keep a good grip on your dog’s leash if their eyes are darting around. They may be poised to make a move or even attack if they feel like the situation warrants it.

Remember, your dog may be hearing or smelling things that you can’t. You may be in a dangerous situation and they may try to get you somewhere safer.

What is the “Whale Eye” and What Does It Mean?

This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “moon eye” as well. It is when your dog’s face is in one direction, but its eyes are directed elsewhere. Due to this, position, you will be able to see a crescent-shaped portion of the whites of their eyes.

Such a position means that your dog can sense someone or something. It is usually a tense movement and you may need to be alert, depending on the situation.

What Does the Shape of Your Dog’s Pupil Show?

Your German Shepherd’s pupils will dilate or constrict depending on the lighting conditions. As such, they will narrow them in well-lit areas and expand in dim conditions.

If you are in broad daylight and notice that your dog’s eyes are dilated, you should feel concerned. It shows that your dog is anxious or stressed out. Take a look around to determine what the cause may be and consider moving away.

What Does Your German Shepherds Ear Movements Show You?

The shape and erectness of a German Shepherd’s ears make it easier to notice when there is any change in movement or position. Here is what this can mean:

Why Does My German Shepherd Put His Ears Back When I Pet Him?


Ears Facing Backwards

If your dog’s ears flop back as you pet them, this is a good thing. It is both a sign of happiness as well as submission. Your pooch may have also been anticipating that head pat and is now leaning into it.

This position is only a good sign if your dog’s ears are relaxed and floppy. If they are titled backward in a more rigid fashion, then it could mean something else entirely.

Why are Your German Shepherd’s Ears Facing Backwards?

This position means that your dog is stressed out. They are anxious about something near them. It is best to be careful about how you approach your dog when you notice their ears like this. You should also prevent any strangers or unfamiliar people from approaching them.

See also  German Shepherd Facts

Is It a Good Sign If Your Dog’s Ears Move Up and Down?

You are most likely to notice your German Shepherd’s ears going up and down continuously when they are welcoming people. They may do this when greeting you at the door or when meeting other people for the first time.

This movement can convey excitement and curiosity. You may also notice that your pup is getting right in the middle of people, sniffing them, etc.

What Should You Do If Your Dog’s Ear Flick From Side to Side?

Your dog will do this when they try to pay attention to everything around them, all at once. You may notice your German Shepherd’s ears moving like this when you are in a room with many people. Your dog’s ears will flick back and forth trying to keep up with all the conversations.

Your German Shepherd will also do this when they are trying to track a moving sound. They will move their ears according to the direction in which the sound is moving.

How Can You Decipher Your German Shepherd’s Mouth Movements?

You may not pay attention to your dog’s mouth, but this can provide you with insight into what your pup may do next.

Why is There Ambiguity with Your Dog’s Mouth Opening or Closing?

An open or closed mouth can either mean that your dog is stressed or relaxed, depending on the situation. To identify how your dog is feeling, first, consider your surroundings as well as who is around you. This will give you some context.

In most instances, an open mouth can mean that your dog is happy and feeling relaxed. You will need to take a closer look at how they are keeping their mouth open, however.

If your dog’s mouth is very still in this position and their entire body is stationary, it could be an indication that they are on alert or stressed out.

A closed mouth doesn’t mean anything. If your dog’s mouth has quickly snapped shut and the rest of their body is rigid or indicating stress, this means that your dog is no longer comfortable.

Should You Be Wary of a German Shepherd with a Snarling or Raised Lip?

This is one of the most recognizable mouth movements. Your dog’s upper lip is raised, baring its teeth. Such an expression may be accompanied by snarling.

When you notice this expression, it is important to be on alert. If your dog is behaving like this towards another person or animal, you should try to slowly move your dog away.

Be careful about how you interact with your pooch when they are in this mood, however. Talk to them soothingly and don’t make any sudden movements. It is possible when your dog is in such a tense mood that it may accidentally snap at you instead of its real target.

If your German Shepherd’s lips are drawn back it may not always be an aggressive gesture. If your dog’s mouth looks like it’s stretched into a grin, their head is lowered, and they are looking away from you, this is a sign of submission. Your pup may be seated down as well.

You are most likely to notice this expression when your dog has done something it shouldn’t have. Maybe they have gone through the garbage, destroyed the couch, or stolen food. In any case, your dog is submitting to you.

Can Your German Shepherd Smile at You?

Most German Shepherd parents will swear that their dogs smile at them. Is this possible, though? Can your dog smile at you?

Scientists do believe that through years of domestication, dogs may have adopted “smiling” over time. When you see your dog grinning at you, tongue out, and happy, he is probably doing this because it has elicited a positive reaction in the past.

Many people will react to a dog “smiling” by cooing at them, hugging them, giving them treats, and so on. Your dog may be simply smiling to gain affection or to make you happy.

You will be pleased to learn that dogs only make this expression when they are relaxed and happy themselves. For all intents and purposes, they are smiling at you.

Do German Shepherds Only Pant When They are Tired?

German Shepherds are most likely to pant after rigorous exercise, although they will do so in warm weather as well. If your German Shepherd begins to pant without these precursors, however, it is something you should take note of.

Panting can be a sign that your dog is anxious. This type of panting may be followed up by a lot of drooling. Your German Shepherd’s tongue may also take the shape of a spatula.

Something about your dog’s current situation is causing them fear or stress. They may also pant if they are separated from you or a favored family member.

Why is My German Shepherd Yawning So Much?

As with humans, German Shepherds will yawn when they are tired, sleepy, or have just woken up from a nap. Yawning can also be a sign of stress and fear, though.

If your dog is yawning because they are upset, it may look more exaggerated – they will yawn louder and wider than they typically do. You may also notice that the yawning doesn’t stop, but will continue for a while.

As this is a sign of discomfort, it is best to consider what you can change about your dog’s environment. Can you take them somewhere else? Try to take them home or somewhere soothing where they have a chance to calm down.

See also  How Do German Shepherds Show Affection?

What Do Your German Shepherd’s Licking Habits Mean?

When your dog licks you, it is a sign of affection and a way for them to bond with you. It is also your pup’s way of telling you to pay attention to them.

Some dogs will also lick you if they want to appease you. They may be aware that you are angry or frustrated. It is their way of saying, “I’m sorry”.

In case your dog is licking their lips or you notice their tongue flicking out, this is an entirely different scenario. It indicates that your dog is uncomfortable.

Your dog could be reacting to something stressful in his or her environment. If you can’t pinpoint what this is, it may be your dog’s way of telling you that they need some space. Move to another room and leave them alone for a while.

Why is Your German Shepherd Sighing or Huffing?

It can be amusing to hear a German Shepherd sigh or make a similarly odd noise. Your dog’s sigh should be interpreted based on the situation.

For instance, if your dog lets out a big sigh when they are stretching, this is an indication of contentment. If they do this when it is just you and them and they want to play or head to bed, this is a sound of frustration. Your pup may huff in such a moment as well.

On the other hand, you may also notice that your dog sighs when you are leaving an unfamiliar place or situation. They may also sigh when a group of guests leaves your home. This shows that they were previously uncomfortable but are now happy that things are going back to normal.

What Does Your German Shepherd’s Body Position Tell You?

Let’s move further and identify what some of the following body positions mean for your pup:

Why Does Your German Shepherd Roll Over On Their Back?

This is the ultimate sign of submission. Historically, animals have had the instinct to keep their stomachs well-protected. This is where most of their major organs are and keeping this area covered keeps them safer.

If your pooch is on their back, belly exposed, and legs out, it means that they trust you completely. They may wiggle around in this position, with their tongue out. This position is usually an invitation for belly rubs as well.

Why is Your German Shepherd Standing or Sitting Still?

If you notice that your dog is in a stiff position, it is a sign of alertness. The dog may also be stressed out or fearful of what is going on around him.

In case you notice this behavior in an unknown German Shepherd, don’t approach them or try to pet them. Even when your dog does this, move around them cautiously. Talk to them in a low, soothing voice, and don’t make any sudden movements.

Will Your German Shepherd Attack When Their Hackles are Raised?

This is another universal sign for an angry dog. When you notice that the fur along your dog’s neck and back is raised, it is important to be cautious. In this state, your German Shepherd is aggressive, upset, and may attack anyone around them.

Due to this, you need to approach them carefully. Talk to your dog in a low voice and don’t attempt to grab them if they jerk away or snap and snarl at you. Avoid making sudden movements, try to pick up your dog’s leash and get them away from the trigger.

If you notice this in someone else’s dog, try to get away from that area. Don’t run or rush away, though, as it can cause the dog to come after you. Instead, slowly move backward until you are in a safer area.

Why Does Your German Shepherd Bow Down on Their Front Paws?

This gesture is often followed by a wagging tail. It is a sign of excitement and it means that your dog wants to play. You will most often notice your dog getting into this position when another friendly dog is around.

It is an indication to the other dog that it is playtime. They may also do this to some humans. This gesture may be accompanied by your dog barking and pawing at the air.

Why Do Dogs Lie Down With a Paw Tucked Under?

If you find your German Shepherd in this position, it indicates that they are relaxed and happy. They are in a safe environment and are secure enough to get into a comfortable position.

You may find that most German Shepherds enjoy being petted when they are like this. It helps them feel more comfortable.

How Should You Interpret Your Dog’s Tail Position?

As you know, your German Shepherd’s tail can tell you a lot about their emotions and mood. Here is how you can decode their feelings:

Is It Normal for Your German Shepherd’s Tail to Hang Low?

In this state, the tip of your German Shepherd’s tail will be close to their back legs, but will not be in between. A long hanging tail means that your dog is relaxed. This is a normal state for your pup and you will notice this when they are calm or in an environment that they are comfortable with.

What Does a High Held Tail Mean?

This is to indicate confidence or even dominance. However, it can also be a sign of aggression. If your dog’s tail is in this position, it means that something has captured his or her attention and they are responding to it.

See also  Are German Shepherds Good With Other Dogs?

You will need to consider other elements of your dog’s body language to determine how they are feeling. When their tail is like this, they can either be ready to play or launch into attack.

In male German Shepherds, a high tail could indicate sexual interest. If there are any females around, especially those in heat, it could mean that your dog is ready to mate.

Why is Your Dog’s Tail Tucked Between Their Legs?

This is a universal doggy sign for fear. In some cases, it can be difficult to know if your German Shepherd’s tail is relaxed or in between their legs. In the latter situation, the tip of the tail may be closer to their body.

This anxiety is also palpable by the rest of your dog’s behavior – panting, shaking, a general sense of discomfort. Always try to calm them down in such a situation.

What If Your German Shepherd’s Tail Is In a Horizontal Position?

If your dog’s tail is held aloft, you need to determine how rigidly he is holding his tail in this position. Is it limp? This means that your pup isn’t quite sure about the person or animal in front of them. They aren’t aggressive about them, but they aren’t exactly happy about the situation either.

If the tail is horizontal and rigid, this is a sign of aggression. Your dog may take action when they hold this position, so make sure to take hold of their leash so they can’t attack. Depending on the situation, you may also want to remove your dog from that area.

What Does Your German Shepherd’s Tail Wagging Mean?

Tail wagging can also offer important insight into your dog’s mood. Here is what you should know:

Why is Your German Shepherd’s Tail Wagging Fast?

Most people assume that a fast wagging tail is a good thing but this isn’t always the case. To determine how your dog is feeling, pay attention to how they are wagging their tail.

If your dog’s tail is wagging fast and wide, this is a sign that they are happy. They have probably just seen you or someone else that they like. It may also be a signal that they are ready to play.

In contrast, if your dog’s tail is held horizontally, is rigid, and the wag is stiffer, this is usually a sign of aggression. It could mean that your dog is simply agitated, but they are certainly not happy.

Why Does Your Dog Wag Their Tail Slowly?

When your German Shepherd’s wag is slower, it means that they are unsure of a certain situation or person. They are most likely analyzing the situation, trying to determine if they should be relaxed or alert.

You will most likely see such a wag when your dog is meeting a human or animal for the first time. How they begin to wag their tail after this initial interaction will give you some indication of how your pup feels about that individual.

How to Read Your German Shepherd Body Language?

Now that you are aware of what these various movements and positions mean, let’s put them together. Here are some tips on how you can read your German Shepherd’s body language:

Do All German Shepherds React the Same Way?

It is important to understand that not every German Shepherd will express the same body language. Your dog may not always use a specific movement or posture to indicate happiness, fear, or even aggression.

This is why it is important to pay attention to how your dog behaves in general. Take note of what they do when they are happy, anxious, or curious. This will give you a better idea of how your dog will behave in certain situations.

In turn, this will make you more adept at reacting to them properly.

Why Is Context Important with Dogs’ Body Language?

As you will have gathered from the information above, certain movements or positions can indicate both happiness and anxiety.

This is why you should always consider where you are, who you are with, and what is going on when you analyze your dog’s behavior. The situation will allow you to apply your knowledge and determine just what is going through your dog’s head at that moment.

How Should You React to Changes in Your Dog’s Body Language?

Reacting the right way to your dog’s body language will help to create a deeper bond with your dog. This is because your German Shepherd will realize that you understand how they are feeling and are responding appropriately. They may then feel safer and more secure.

If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, look for the trigger. You can try to remove them from that situation or get rid of the trigger. In case this isn’t possible, stay close to your pooch and work to soothe them. Talk to them, pet them, and find a way to calm them down.

If your German Shepherd is indicating signs of joy and happiness, respond accordingly. Give them lots of attention, pets, and show them that you love them right back. Play with them if they are showing that they are in the mood to get some exercise.

There is quite a lot to keep in mind when it comes to learning about German Shepherd body language. From their heads to their paws, they use every muscle to indicate how they are feeling. With this guide, you will not only understand what their emotions are but also how to respond appropriately.

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