We often wonder if our companion animals are living a full and happy life, since they cannot tell us themselves verbally. But what is a real happiness? The concept of “being happy” is complex even for us, humans and rational beings. The question that we should ask is perhaps this: Is my dog happy? Or: Is my dog sad, depressed or sick? Starting from this base, if your companion animal is in a good mood the most part of the day, you could say it’s a happy animal, right? How can we detect if our dog is happy? Thanks to its great capacity for non-verbal communication. Here are signs that will help you to recognise if your dog is happy or not:
1 Your dog has a relaxed posture.
The eyes are narrowed and blinking normally, in addition to having the ears down (although this depends on the breed). The mouth is slightly open and your body is free of tension.
If your dog does not have a relaxed posture, it could be because of stress or fear. Many times, dogs that feel stress could be destructive, and feeling threatened can lead them to be aggressive with other dogs or humans. Also a bad sign if your dog is crestfallen.
2 Move the tail.
This is a classic, and therefore no less true. If your dog is happy, move the tail from one side to another with rhythm. Now, if they do not do it continuously it does not mean that they are sad: it is just another sign that they are having fun or being happy.
If your dog has his tail down, he may be uncomfortable or alert for something. And if the dog has the tail inside his legs, he is probably scared.
3 Dog’s energy is necessary.
A happy dog is a dog with a desire to play and move, which reacts to stimuli and does not spend the day lying and doing nothing.
But watch out! If your dog has too much energy he may need more exercise and walks.
4 He is curious.
It is in his nature to smell everything, to touch it and even, no matter how much it weighs, to put it in his mouth. A happy dog will want to know what is all around him, and will want to investigate.
If your pet has no interest in smelling or looking at what you carry in the shopping bag, is apathetic and prefers to ignore everything and spend the day sleeping, may be depressed or sad.
5 He has an appetite.
This point depends on many variables, since some dogs are fussier about food. However, a happy dog usually eats well.
On the other hand, as happens in humans, a dog that is in low spirits may not be hungry and leave part of the food.
6 Sleeps necessary hours.
This is also related to their physical activity. If the animal that goes for a walk several times a day and does the recommended exercise can sleep 16 hours a day.
On the other hand, if your dog does not burn the energy it should, it will not rest properly.
Another approach we can give to this topic is whether your dog is happy with you. There are dogs that are friends of all, and others that need their time to make to someone. In this way, just like people, dogs can be more or less comfortable with humans.
These are the sights that will help you to find out if you make your dog happy:
1 It shows you the belly.
Dogs often hide their bellies when they do not trust someone, as if that were the most sensitive part of their body. That shows you the belly is a sign that you have a lot of confidence and know that you will not hurt it.
2 He looks for you and wants to be near you.
Either to feel protected or to protect you (depending on the role you have within its social order), if your dog considers you their own herd, it will want to be in physical contact with you.
3 If it maintains eye contact.
When dogs fear someone they do not look at their eyes, but they look down and appear submissive.
4 Squints when you pet him.
This small gesture means that it really enjoys your caresses, either because of your skills, the appreciation he has for you or the combination of both.
5 It gets very close when you hug it.
Dogs, like social animals that they are, seek affection in their family. If your dog takes advantage of your hug to stick closer to you, he definitely wants that complicity with you.
ON WHAT DEPENDS ON WHETHER A DOG IS HAPPY OR UNHAPPY?
Most important things for a dog’s happiness are health and environment. A sick dog will surely have discomfort or feel uncomfortable, and all that affects a dog’s mood. But most of the time, the happiness of our pet is directly linked to our way of caring for it and treating it.
If you want your dog to be happy, you will have to start taking it to the corresponding veterinary check-ups (more frequent when they are puppies and elderly), and also when you notice that something is not going as usual and suspect that it may be due to a health problem. For this reason, you should be aware of any change in their behaviour.
It is also very important to stimulate it with walks and games. And always remember this: Your dog depends on you. Having an animal under your responsibility sometimes means changing your habits and adapting them to their needs. Surprise him with a trip to the mountains or take him to your friend’s house. Include your dog in your plans whenever you can, instead of leaving it for hours and hours at home alone.
To sum up, happiness is the accumulation of moments in which your dog is happy, and that is easy to detect. What is most important to achieve it? A human being that lives with the dog!