Recently I was asked if dogs can smile. A great question – and yes of course they can – but unlike us, dogs don’t smile with their mouths and teeth but with their tail.
Actually, to be more accurate, a dog smiles with their whole body but the tail is the closest thing to a doggie grin we have – and it is by far the easiest to spot. There is nothing so wonderful as watching your dog wagging from sheer joy and love of life.
So… When a dog wags their tail, they’re happy, right? The answer is a definite maybe. Yes, when a dog is happy, their tail is relaxed, usually held at half-mast (depending on the breed/type), and it can be doing anything from waving contentedly to wagging furiously. This really is the same as our smiles when we are enjoying what we are doing with people we love.
But we don’t just smile when we are happy.
We will usually smile when we meet someone that we don’t know to indicate we are friendly and non-threatening. We smile to try and make people feel comfortable. When we are in a conflict situation or interacting with someone we don’t like or who intimidates us, we often smile to try and appease the other person and prevent things from escalating. We smile out of nerves or fear.