Can my dog really be smiling at me?
The question of whether dogs smile when they are happy has been hotly debated for years. Once it was believed that what we perceived as a smile, was really just a muscular reflex and not an expression of happiness, but lately, that theory has been challenged.
Although your beloved pooch isn't likely to grin at a joke, or something humorous the way people do, many dog behaviorists now believe that what pet parents interpret as a smile could in fact be your dog's way of expressing a relaxed happiness, joy or contentment. Along with a relaxed open jaw and a mouth that curls up at the corners, when your dog smiles you will likely notice that their tail is wagging and their body language is happy.
Why do dogs smile?
Like the many reasons why individual humans smile, the reasons behind your dog's smiles will be unique to your pet.
As masters of reading human behavior, there's a good chance that our canine companions have discovered that when they smile it makes us happy and leads to behaviors they benefit from such as pats, treats and belly rubs.
On the other hand, perhaps something you do brings a smile to your dog's face as they relax and anticipate a pleasurable experience, such as when you reach for the leash at walk time, or pour food into their bowl.
Do dogs smile at each other?
Dogs communicate with each other using their entire body, so it's unlikely that you'll notice your pup grinning at other dogs at the park. But you will be able to spot happy, or even playful body language.
If your dog likes another dog you will likely notice signs such as a happy tail wag, taking turns chasing each other, or the 'play bow' with front legs stretched out and bottom raised which says 'hey I like you, let's play'.
Do dogs like it when we smile?
Your dog loves making you happy and is very good at reading your moods. There is a good chance that your dog loves to see you smile, knowing that it's a sign of great things to come in the form of extra attention.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.