5 min read


Can Dogs Feel Excitement?



5 min read


Can Dogs Feel Excitement?


We've all had that moment when we've looked at our dog and wondered what they were feeling. Sure, when we get home from work, pick up the leash, call them by name, or give them pet-pets, they may seem excited. But does that mean that they actually can feel excitement? 

You may be surprised (or unsurprised, depending on how crazy your dog is!) that you woofer actually does have the capability to feel excited, among a wide range of other emotions including love, fear, sadness, and anger. 

So that happy little yip when you get home, that bouncing up and down when you grab the leash, and that quick tail wagging when you scratch their favorite spots really does mean that your dog is excited and happy to be around you. And luckily, there's a ton more that we can do to keep our dogs happy and excited whenever they see us. Like humans and depending on the type of dog, there are certain things that are always going to make your pooch excited, so whenever you notice them, take a note and keep makin' your dog happy!


Signs Your Dog Is Excited

We all wish our woofers could talk to us. Maybe they'd tell us about the weather, or how much they loved us. Or maybe, and quite probably, they'd just tell us how excited they are about the ball you keep throwing! Unfortunately for us, we haven't yet figured out a way to get our dogs to talk to humans in a way that we can communicate back. There is, however, another way that our dogs speak to us, which is through their body language! By learning to interpret what our pup is doing, we can actually tell how they're feeling. 

Dogs that are excited and/or ready to play are happy pups. There are a ton of signs that can tell us that our dog is happy or excited. Start by looking at their face. A happy, content, or excited dog will have relaxed eyes with a soft gaze and smooth brow. Their ears may also be relaxed or back, depending on how excited they are! As for their mouth, a lot of happy or excited dogs will have an open mouth, maybe even with their tongue hanging out or rolling around. They may look to you like they're smiling!

As for the rest of their body, dogs that are happy or excited will often be relaxed, rather than tense or stiff in posture. They'll either be holding their tail relatively high, or wagging it so much that even their body is wiggling! Sometimes, an excited dog may also flip over on their belly, while leaving their tongue out. While this is a submissive behavior when your woofer's mouth is closed, an open mouth and shown belly is actually your dog just asking you for pet-pets or scratches! They may also "play bow", or raise their booties in the air and lower their chests/front of their bodies to the ground. That's your dog's way of showing you that they're excited and ready to play!

Another thing you may notice when your dog is excited is the noises they make. Depending on the breed and how your dog has been raised, your dog may bark or whine when they're happy or excited. This can be from a few short little yips to something that almost sounds like a seal!

Each dog reacts differently to excitement, depending on what it is they're excited about. One way to figure out your dog's specific responses to excitement is to note how they react when you get home after a day of work. Pretty much all dogs are excited and happy to see their owners when they get home, so keep an eye on how they act then, and when they exhibit some of those behaviors at different times, you'll know that they're happy!

Body Language

Some signs that your dog is excited are:

  • Barking
  • Wag Tail
  • Hugging
  • Stomach Flip
  • Wiggling
  • Tongue Hanging
  • Play Bowing

Other Signs

A few more clues that your pup is feeling excited include:

  • Barking, Crying, Or Whining In Happiness
  • "Zoomies" Or Running Around The House
  • Relaxed Facial Expression
  • Ears Forward Or Pressed Back Against Their Head
  • Puppy Smiles

The History Behind Dogs and Excitement


You may be surprised to learn that humans actually domesticated dogs over 10,000 years ago! That means for a really long time, dogs have been around humans, and have learned to at least somewhat understand our behaviors and copy some of our mannerisms. Because dogs have been around us for so long, they've learned to depend on us for entertainment, food, and love. As a result, it's no surprise that they get excited when we come home and they see us! 

Additionally, they've picked up on some of the things that we do as well when we're excited. Sometimes, when we're happy about something, we may jump up and down or yell out in happiness. Dogs do this too! That's why whenever they're happy, they'll often jump up and down, or maybe even on you. They'll also voice their happiness through barking or funky, little seal noises. Each dog is different!

The Science Behind Excitement in Dogs


Even scientists are dog lovers. As a result, they too wonder what dogs are feeling and why. Studies have been done on woofers the world over, the purpose of which is to try to figure out what emotions dogs actually feel. Research has shown that our woofers actually have the mental and emotional capabilities and understanding of about a 2 1/2-year-old kiddo.

Like toddlers, dogs can feel emotions like excitement, distress, contentment and happiness, disgust, fear, anger, joy, suspicion, and affection or love. Unlike little kids though, your dog's emotional growth stops right around there. Studies have shown that most dogs are unable to feel other emotions, like pride, shame, guilt, and contempt, although some owners still think their little pupper can feel these things!

Training Your Dog to Be Excited


Hint: you can't train your dog to feel certain emotions! Just like humans, dogs are going to feel the way they feel about certain things, regardless of what we want them to do. That being said, there are certain things we can train ourselves to do to recognize excitement in our pups. 

Take note of the things that your dog does when you get home. That'll usually be the peak of your dog's happy/excited behavior, so anytime they exhibit those types of behaviors, there's a good chance they're excited! 

Additionally, your dog may do certain things when they're excited that are a little naughty. Maybe they have an accident because they're so happy to see you, or they'll jump up on you in a way that you don't necessarily want them to. 

In order to stop your dog from doing things like this, you can work to wean them off of these types of behaviors. Positive reinforcement is the best way to do it. Whenever they're excited, give them treats when they do everything BUT the thing you're trying to get them to stop doing. And when they do behave poorly, be patient - you can gently reprimand your dog, but don't go too far!

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Written by Katherine McCormick

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/08/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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