19 Things Dogs Do When They’re Happy

Written By Jill Taylor

Dogs might be unable to speak to us directly, but that doesn’t mean they can’t communicate their emotions via actions and body language. Those of us with dogs love our furry best friends, and we want to ensure they’re as content as possible. Here are 19 sure signs that your dog is happy, joyful, loved, and truly living its best life!

Strong Tail Wagging

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We hate to state the obvious but can’t ignore the most common ‘happy dog’ behavior. The Smithsonian Magazine reports that low, slow tail wagging can indicate uncertainty, but a fast, strongly beating tail shows that a dog is curious, trusting, and happy to see you, especially if their entire back end joins the party!

Giving Kisses

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While you may not appreciate it every time, many dogs show their love by excessive licking—often on people’s hands and faces. Although it isn’t the most hygienic way to shower you with love, this slobbery outpouring of affection strongly indicates that your pup adores you and loves being part of your family.

Relaxed Walking

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Does your dog walk calmly and confidently by your side, enjoying the sights and smells of the world around them? This relaxed, unfazed demeanor indicates that they are enjoying their walk and spending time with you, and that anxieties or fears about the new environment aren’t eroding their happiness.


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The affectionately named “zoomies” are well known to many pet owners—sudden, playful bursts of energy that often involve sprinting back and forth or round and round. Purina says it’s a way of releasing energy and expressing excitement. Although it can be somewhat chaotic and even destructive, rest assured that your pooch is having the time of its life!


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The DHDA writes, “Dogs love to feel connected to their owners, and when they greet you, it’s because they’re happy to see you.” Whether it’s enthusiastic barking, intense tail-wagging, or crazy jumping, your dogs aren’t greeting you out of obligation or because they want food—they are truly happy and excited to see their favorite people.

Sharp Focus

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When your dog is genuinely engaged and happy, they’ll often exhibit laser-like focus on you, another dog, a favorite toy, or that squirrel they’re chasing! Dogs with traumatic pasts tend to be more hesitant and watchful, so if your pet gets lost in the moment and is hard to distract, it may be a good sign that they’re enjoying life in a very ‘present’ way.

The Happy Dance

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Unless your pup is a seriously chilled-out old-timer, you’re probably familiar with ‘the happy dance’—when a dog hops from paw to paw and shakes their whole body in excitement. This distinctive behavior expresses uncontainable joy or expectation and often accompanies the arrival of a beloved family member, ‘walkies,’ or their favorite treat.


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Wag warns that depressed, neglected, or lonely dogs often stop playing altogether. Playtime is enjoyable for both dogs and their owners, and playing makes most dogs very happy. Although they love the physicality of chase, tug-of-war, or ball-seeking, they also love the social aspect of positively interacting with people or other dogs.


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If your dog seeks you out when you are resting in bed or watching TV, they might be after a cuddle session. Unlike cats, who may just be seeking warmth, dogs love to be physically close to their humans as a sign of companionship—it makes them feel safe, loved, and part of the pack to snuggle up or simply lay their head in your lap.

Food-Time Excitement

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Some healthy dogs can be picky eaters, but most view dinner time as a joyous occasion that they enthusiastically anticipate. Once the food bowl and the can opener appear, they often express their excitement with tail-wagging, happy dancing, or jumping up. This shows they have a healthy appetite and happily enjoy their meals.

Rolling Over

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It’s not just a famous party trick—rolling onto its back and exposing its vulnerable abdomen is a sign that a dog loves and trusts you. The Dog People state that the action isn’t submissive but an expression of complete trust and indicates that your dog feels safe, secure, and loved when you’re around. Awwwww!

Likes Other Dogs

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Although it doesn’t always apply, a happy dog is often content when interacting with other dogs at the dog park or when walking. A pooch who feels secure and free from anxiety will respond positively to other dogs, greeting them with curiosity and without any aggression. This can indicate a happy, well-adjusted dog who is enjoying life to the fullest!

Sleeping Upside-down

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As with exposing their bellies while rolling, sleeping in an intensely silly or relaxed pose is a strong sign that your dog feels completely safe and comfortable. Pets who sleep in exposed positions and snore profoundly (or are difficult to disturb) are absolutely assured of their own safety and free from stress, distrust, or fear.

Treat Obsession

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According to Hartz, treats are an excellent way to build a strong bond with your dog and increase happiness levels for you both. A dog who responds well to positive reinforcement via their favorite titbit is likely to be content, trusting, and engaged—all positive signs that life is good.

Relaxed Grooming

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Does your dog seem to enjoy grooming sessions? Being calm and amenable to daily brushings or professional grooming visits indicates that your dog is trusting, relaxed, and loves being pampered. Behavior like leaning toward you, tongue licking, and rolling in the grass can show that being groomed feels great for your dog.

Cool With Bathtime

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As with grooming, bath time can be a much-hated affair for you and your dog. Although some otherwise happy dogs dislike water, it’s generally a positive sign if your dog is amenable or even excited about having a bath. It shows that they are relaxed, trusting, and comfortable—plus, being clean sure feels nice!


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Although dogs cannot smile as people do, a wide, open mouth sometimes shows that they’re relaxed, happy, and non-aggressive. In contrast, snarling, exposing their upper teeth, or keeping their heads down and their mouths closed can be indicators of fear, anxiety, or depression.

Loves the Car

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Many dogs are nervous about riding in a car or unsure what will happen at the journey’s end. If your pet shows nothing but boundless enthusiasm and joy when you open the car door, chances are they associate car rides with good things—like long, satisfying walks or trips to visit beloved friends.

Willing to Learn

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Unless your pet is a senior, happiness often translates to a willingness to learn new things and investigate new places. If your dog is attentive and responsive during training sessions, rest assured they’re getting plenty of mental stimulation, which will surely enrich their lives and increase their contentment.