Dog owners! Here’s one surprising thing you should pay attention to if you want a happier relationship with your pup

Dog licking the face of man
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to building a stronger and deeper relationship with your canine companion, you may have found yourself focusing on some of the more obvious ways of connecting - such as lots of play sessions, daily walks, and rewarding your pup for good behavior with one of the best longest lasting dog chews

And while all of these options are brilliant for helping your dog to stay happy and healthy, expert dog trainer Julianna DeWillems says that there's one important relationship builder that often gets overlooked - and that's paying attention to your dog's body language. 

To highlight how crucial body language is in creating a trusting and respectful relationship between you and your dog, DeWillems uses the example of a pup rolling onto their side exposing their belly.

As pet parents, we may view this body language as our dog indicating they want their tummy rubbed, but as DeWillems points out in her Instagram post, which you can view below, this isn't always the case. 

"BELLY UP doesn’t always mean “I want pets!” In fact, it can mean the opposite: “I want space!," DeWillems explains, going on to state that body language such as a squinty eyes, ears back, leg up and tail tucked can all indicate that your dog wants to be left alone.

"One of the best ways you can tell how a dog is feeling if they’re on their back around you is to stop interacting with them, take a few steps back, and observe what they do," she says.

According to DeWillems, if your dog gets up and walks over to you with a relaxed face, a wiggly body and a sweeping tail wag, then it's likely ok to keep petting them. But if they get up and walk away or stand up but don't approach you, it's important not to re-approach and to give them space.

"The more you know about dog body language, the more you can understand what they are saying to you! When a dog’s signals go noticed and understood, they are less likely to escalate to snapping or biting."

One of the best ways to bond with your dog is to learn what it is they're trying to tell you through their body language and behavior. Just like us humans, dogs have their own needs for space and respecting this will go a long way in building a loving and trusting connection.

Enjoyed this piece and looking for more great content to deepen your relationship with your canine companion? Our first-person piece 'I learned these five dog body language cues and they changed my relationship with my dog' has got you covered.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.