Canine CareHealth

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Happy or Sad When You’re Not at Home

Many dog owners have to leave their pooches at home to go to work. Their biggest worry is if their doggos are safe and happy without company. Aside from being healthy, it’s also important that a dog remains happy so they will have a harmonious relationship with their masters. But how to tell if your dog is happy or sad? Luckily, experts have established some signs.

Communication is important when getting a pet. Dog owners have to listen to the message that their pets are trying to send. And since canines can’t speak, dog owners are left to interpret their dog’s body language.

So how will you know if your pooch is happy? The following are some of the signs:

Signs of a happy dog

Do you have a happy pooch? You can check for these signs to know if your doggo is in a happy disposition:

1.     The pooch gives you puppy eyes

If your pooch gives you the googly, puppy eyes, it’s a sign that it’s happy. A relaxed dog will have equally relaxed eyelids and eyes. The gaze of the pooch is also soft and welcoming. Nevertheless, some dogs have normal squinty eyes and not as round as others.

Also, a dog is happy if it blinks a lot. It means that your pooch doesn’t mind letting its guard loose near you. It’s a sign of trust and calmness. This is usually paired with relaxed and folded ears instead of pointed ones.

2.     They have a relaxed, waggy tail

Another tell-tale sign of a happy dog is a waggy tail. A happy dog will be wagging its tail in a way that it overcomes its body. A wag that shakes the body is a positive sign. Also, the dog remains in a neutral position even if it wags its tail.

However, it’s easy to misread this sign. Some nervous dogs will wag their tails but in an assessing and alert manner. If the wagging doesn’t shake the body, it’s best to back off, especially if it’s not your dog. 

3.     A ravenous appetite

Happy dogs will have a healthy appetite. Upon smelling dog food, they will be wagging their tails and waiting by the dog bowl. Still, it’s normal that not all dogs have a big appetite. Nevertheless, a happy dog will not take too much coaxing to go near the food bowl.

If your dog doesn’t want to eat for long, you must consult with a veterinarian. The pooch could be experiencing a health problem that results in poor appetite. Also, remember that poor appetite isn’t always a behavioral problem. Usually, it has something to do with the doggo’s health.

4.     No destructive behavior

A dog that’s contented and happy will not destroy stuff. Aggressive chewing is often associated with separation anxiety when dogs are left behind by their owners for long hours.

Dogs chew aggressively when they are bored and when they feel too stressed. They will gnaw on anything, including your shoes, bag, and your prized couch. Even their toys will be ripped to pieces if the doggo is anxious.

If you’re going home to a wagging tail with everything intact, you have something to be thankful for.

5.     The dog plays bows

Your dog plays bow when it puts its chest close to the ground and its bottom in an upward direction. It’s an invitation to play. And when a pooch does this, it’s guaranteed that the canine is excited and up for some fun game time.

Your dog can do this to you, other people, and even other dogs. It’s a playful gesture that means your pooch is relaxed, happy, and not threatened by anything.

6.     The dog leans to you

A dog that leans to its owner’s body is a happy dog. When your dog does this with a calm body, it means that they are enjoying physical contact. They love being around you and they are happy that you are present.

Just like a human leaning into a person, it’s a sign that your dog is happy and secure in your presence. It also means that you and your dog have a special bond. Make sure that you enjoy every minute of it!

In this video, canine behavior expert Anthony Newman tells us more about the signs of a happy dog:

Signs of a sad dog

Dogs that are left behind alone will become sad, anxious, and depressed. This loneliness will lead to a range of behavioral problems.

If you observe the following signs to your dog, it’s possible that the pooch is sad and requires more attention.

1.     Sleeping all day

When humans are sad and depressed, they tend to sleep more than usual. The same goes for your dog. While it’s normal for dogs to sleep a lot (they sleep for up to 12 hours a day!), it can border to excessive if the pooch remains sleeping even after you arrive.

If your dog barely reacts to your arrival, something could be wrong. You may want to check potential health problems, even a visit to the vet will help a lot.

However, if your doggo is given a clean bill of health, it’s a sign that you have to spend more time with the pooch. It’s possible that your doggo is no longer pleased or excited by your presence. 

2.     Hiding and avoidance

While it’s normal for some pups to hide in the presence of strangers, it’s not a positive behavior when they do it in the presence of their owners. Hiding and avoidance are signs that your doggo is developing depression. If your dog is physically healthy, the reason could be emotional.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t assume that your dog is depressed right away. Always check with the vet for possible health problems. Also, ask yourself if you’re spending enough bonding time with your doggo. You should also consider additional training if it’s a behavioral issue.

3.     Accidents even if fully trained

Dogs that wet inside the house despite being housebroken sends a clear message: they are not happy with something. It could be a new dog or cat that they feel threatened of so they are re-marking their territories.

Also, it’s possible that they had separation anxiety attacks. Some dogs would even plant poop bombs all over the house. This is a sign of anxiety that needs to be fixed through training and desensitization.

However, it’s quite normal for dogs to pee or poo inside if you forgot to bring them for a walk that day. But if it’s becoming a regular thing, depression and anxiety might be getting the best of your dog.

4.     Not listening to commands

If your dog suddenly dismisses your commands despite being trained, something is going on. They may lack interest due to depression, sadness, or the fact that you left them behind. Some canines, especially lapdogs, tend to be sulky when their owners left them alone for hours.

If you’re not getting any results from your sit, stay, and shake, it’s worth bringing your dog to the vet. It’s possible that the doggo is ailing, which is why they lack the focus to respond.

However, if your pooch is within the teenage age, you should also consider stubborn behavior. Further training will go a long way here.

5.     Lack of interest in their toys

Dogs love toys, so if your pooch starts to lose interest, it’s time to spice things up. Repetitive toys can get boring and damaged over time. If you don’t give your doggo something new, they will just leave the old toys behind and look for something to stay busy. Worse, it would be your couch and other important belongings.

If your dog has stopped begging you to play with their toys, you should try something new. Surprise your pooch with a new toy and see what happens. If this didn’t do the magic, it’s probably time to consider getting them a companion dog.

However, for dog owners who can’t take the additional responsibility of a second dog, a change in routines might be the solution. Take your dog to a new walk route or add more activities to their schedule. If you’re too busy, you can hire dog walkers instead to ensure that your pooch receives its daily dose of walkies. This will also prevent them from succumbing to separation anxiety and eventual depression.

6.     Baying at night

Is your dog baying and howling at night? It’s possible that your pooch is scared and longing for your presence. If you just brought the dog home, you can consider letting them sleep on your bedroom floor. Over time, you can transition the doggo to its own bed.

Take note that the howling will not just cause sleep deprivation on the part of your dog but with yours too.

7.     Not willing to play

If playtime no longer has its allure to your dog, your pet may be going through something. It could be a physical or emotional problem. But regardless of what it is, it needs your attention.

We recommend having health problems ruled out first. If your pooch is in the pink of health, it’s probably time to go to more dog parks and allot more bonding time with your pet.

In this video courtesy of AnimalWised, we’ll know more the signs of depression among dogs and what causes it in the first place:


Like humans, our dogs need our tender love and care. If they feel abandoned, they will start to develop negative feelings that may manifest as behavioral problems. Before that happens, you should listen to what your dog is trying to say. Knowing how to tell if your dog is happy or sad is a start. From there, you can think of solutions that will bring back the zest of your Fido.