Dogs indeed express their feelings through various ways and actions. Sometimes through their body language and sometimes through their efforts. But, do dogs smile is a question that dog owners often raise as they often claim that they have a smiling dog.
Dog owners often notice a happy looking dog expression and it appears just like a human smile. This is why people think that their dog is smiling at them. Is it true? Are there smiling dogs? Well, partly. This happens when dogs open their mouth and let their tongue lap over their teeth. Most dogs have been observed to make this expression whenever they’re happy or relaxed. Many dog owners had noticed their dogs make this expression right before or right after they got a treat or during playtime.
While it could be true that dogs specifically make this expression when they are relaxed, but this does not mean they’re necessarily smiling.
Do dogs learn to smile from humans?
Many people have tried to connect the smiling expression with the dogs’ bond with humans. They believe that because most dogs who live with humans and are pets have been observed to make smiling faces, they might have learnt this from their owners.
Dogs indeed pick a lot of things from humans, just like humans. If we live with someone for too long, we start picking their habits. So, this is why many people believe that because the dogs have seen their owner smile whenever they’re happy or in a good mood, the dog learns to copy that behaviour and smiles when it is comfortable. There is no scientific back up to this but many people believe this connection to be true.
Communication with your dog:
Leaving the medical expertise to the doctors and veterans, there is one thing for sure; nobody understands your dog more than you. The dog owner can sense and recognise right away whenever their dog is happy, sad, depressed or excited. If you sit with a dog owner, you will be amazed to hear how they will understand the different ways their dog communicates with them. It’s all in the bond and the trust that the owner with their dog builds. How your dog behaves in certain situations can be completely different from your neighbour’s dog and you must pay attention to your dog’s different ways of communication.
Different dogs have different body languages:
There is no denying that dogs are smart. They notice human behaviour and sense their energy very quickly. If a dog feels danger from a friend of yours, they will never be comfortable around them even if you try hard. In the same way, dogs understand the body language of their owner too. They remember how their owner reacts when they do something right and wrong. Have you ever noticed that your dog will come running towards you when you are smiling and in a good mood and might stay away from you when you look angry? This is because over time they learn to associate their owner’s different expressions with different emotions.
All dogs have different body languages and some have common ones too. If you know your dog well and think that they truly smile when they are happy, there is nothing wrong with that. That’s the thing about the body language of dogs. There is nothing right or wrong about it as it is all observational and depends on the understanding between the pet and the owner.
Are there other explanations as to why dogs smile?
The submissive grin expressions are also often confused with a smile in dogs. People and experts have noticed that dogs often open their mouth and squint their eyes when they are scared, anxious, or scolded by their owners. Now, this is entirely different from what a human smile means. The submissive grin could tell that they are feeling anxious and are not relaxed. This is why they let their tongue out and form smiling expression. On the other hand, this could mean that they are getting scared or submitting to your command. It might look like a smile but it is entirely different from that.
What if my dog only smiles in happy moments?
Some people have noticed that their dog forms a smiling face as soon as they come home or are playing with their dog. This could indicate that their dog forms this expression when they are happy.
Only you know your dog well:
It doesn’t take much to understand how your dogs react when they are happy and sad. This only requires an honest and full of love kind of relationship between the dog and its owner. If you believe your dog is happy when they smile, then it is that simple. It is observed that people who own a dog are happier than people who don’t. Similarly, dogs with a good relationship with their owner are happier than those who do not have an owner or have an unavailable owner.
In conclusion, dogs have emotions and that must be acknowledged. While there is no comparison of the dog’s emotions with human emotions, humans have the most well-developed brains. But, dogs have been observed to show different emotions in different ways.
As a dog owner, you must pay attention to your dog’s behaviour and body language to create a better bond with them and understand their emotions. No bond is formed without effort and understanding of communication, not in humans, not in animals.
If you notice the smiling face in your dog more often than usual and that too consistently, you should make sure they are not uncomfortable due to some pain or discomfort. If the smiling face is a quick reaction to a treat or anything, it is harmless but if they consistently make that face, you must make sure if anything is bothering them or thirsty and opening their mouth because of that. In case of requirement, you must inform their veterinarian and get the help that is needed.