Is My Dog Happy?

Is a wag of the tail enough to signal a dogs happiness or are there other factors that need to be considered? How to know if your dog is happy, or not.


Breeds and Intelligence

Believe it or not but different breeds have different needs that should be met in order for the dog to be happy. Typically the smarter breeds have a much higher need for mental stimulation, and when not presented with such, become bored, destructive, depressed, and so forth. Indeed certain breeds are fairly easy to keep happy, while others require a lot more work.

Some examples of less intelligent, easy to please dogs, are Pugs, Shih Tzus, and so forth, basically the dogs that are used as lap dogs. Some examples of extremely intelligent dogs are Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, and so forth, basically the dogs that were bred to work.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule but generally speaking if a dog is doing what it was bred to do it will be happiest. In some cases substitute jobs work equally well, a Border Collie would be thrilled to herd sheep, but just as happy to herd anything else (cats, chickens, balls), or to get involved with fun things like agility. A Shih Tzu is happy just being near you.

Some dogs require more physical activity, a good example would be a Husky. Greyhounds might surprise you, as they are actually couch potatoes, while a short run is good, they don’t need to burn off tons of energy like a Husky does.

For mutts we would look at the dogs aptitude, does it act like it wants to herd, retrieve, lounge? Sometimes you can get a clue by looking at the dog and guessing its breeds.

happy dog by mccun934.


How do you Know if your Dog is Happy?

A happy dog wags its tail, but more so than this.. a happy dog runs and plays, it shows joy in everything it does. A happy dog is not destructive in the yard (a sign of mental frustration). A happy dog is not destructive in the home (boredom). A happy dog is not scared of everything that moves (stress, fear), nor is it overly submissive. A happy dog does not show signs of food aggression, nor is it fearful of other people and other dogs.

Happy Dog by Larry Tomlinson.


How to Make your Dog Happy


Dogs are pack animals they thrive on being with their pack – YOU. Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time are more likely to be “unhappy”, bored, and destructive. Smart, active, dogs can attend doggy daycare, or you can even come home at lunch. Make sure you give your dog appropriate mental simulation in the morning before work, or school, and later at night according to the breeds need for mental activity.

Happy as a Dog by *PaysImaginaire*.



Proper feeding and health are also things an owner should meet to ensure their dog is happy. Even simple things like spaying or neutering will improve a dogs attitude, we cannot assume they all want to be parents, many dogs do not enjoy this, and if not given the knowledge of it, its not something they miss. Spaying (females) or neutering (males) has health benefits such as removing some cancer risks, but also lowers aggression, and over all makes a happier, less frustrated, dog.


Veterinary attention is also important to ensure our dogs happiness. A dog with a sore tooth is not going to be focusing on anything other than the pain in its mouth. A dog with fleas will be itchy, with worms will be sickly.


Taking our dog to basic obedience, and socialization classes, is very helpful to making it happy. It learns stuff and we all feel better about ourselves when we learn stuff. These classes also help dogs learn about other dogs, and this in turn makes them happy rather than fearful.


Related Links


Mean Dogs, is it the Breed, or the Owner?

The Safest Dogs with Children

What Breed is my Dog?

Dealing with a Destructive Dog


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User Comments
  1. Sourav

    On July 29, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I think all dogs are happy if you provide them enough foods and play with them. Food and companionship is all that every living thing needs. :)

  2. PARAM

    On July 29, 2010 at 9:46 am

    great work..

  3. Jimmy Shilaho

    On July 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Another great post B.

  4. papaleng

    On July 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    very insightful post. Learned so much from it. now I can tell that my golden retriever is much happy. Thanks Brenda.


    On July 29, 2010 at 11:54 am

    all the dgs will bless you for this beautiful article. if i were a dog, i would bless you too. you have spoken on behalf of all the dogs and created this excellent article. i soaked in all the information. as you know, i have 5 chihuahuas and i will apply these tips to loving them too. a big genuine thanks from all of us. :)

  6. PR Mace

    On July 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    People tend to forget all the care a dog needs. I know my dogs are happy they smile all the time. We are lucky because doing shift work there is someone home most of the time and the little time they are home alone they are no trouble. Kole my lab mix at 11 yr old still likes a short run with me daily but if we can’t he will be happy running after a ball for a while. Katie hates to run but will play tug-of-war for a long as we will play with her. And we pack together at night and for that rare afternoon nap. You write the best articles on animals as they come from your heart and the need to teach. Outstanding work, Brenda.

  7. Ruby Hawk

    On July 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    My sister has a beautiful little dog but that little thing barks at everything and runs up and down the stairs dozens of times a day. it’s behavior puzzles me.

  8. Karen Gross

    On July 29, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    You are right on about my dog, my little shih tzu is happy just to be with us. She follows me around all day. She goes nuts whenever someone comes home – running back and forth in figure eights.

  9. Brenda Nelson

    On July 30, 2010 at 11:03 am

    In reference to Rubys comment.. I bet the small dog that runs around is a terrier of some kind – they need to be active… its bored and is entertaining itself

  10. Minister Marlene

    On August 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Can animals really get depressed? I heard they have mood pills for our animals. That doesn’t sit well with me. I didn’t know that breeds could be so different. Informative article.

  11. amilia snow

    On August 9, 2010 at 3:08 am

    i miss my dog…

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  13. Joshi

    On March 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Reassuring thanks

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