Raising Your Paws - Your Pet Parent Resource

Do Dogs Really Smile?

Published: 02/25/2020
Do you think your dog naturally smiles at you? I’ve seen what looks like a grin on Rosy’s face (my Shetland Sheepdog/German Shepherd mix). See what I mean in  the photo below?

Rosy looking like she is having a good dream.

But most likely, it’s just the way she is lying against the edge of her bed that is causing her lips to take that shape –    rather than her dreaming about unlimited access to cheese. We as people, are primed to recognize smiles on faces, which is a powerful, universal, human signal.

Because our brains are programmed (so to speak) to respond to smiles, this can mean anytime, we see other animals with the corners of their mouths pulled back with upturned lips, we interpret it the same way. So the question is, no matter if your dog “looks” like they are smiling at you,  is there actually an expression that a dog can make that really means they are feeling happy? You may have a strong opinion about this. Hear what animal behaviorists have to say about it and what else to look for in your dog’s body language to help you determine if that expression on your dog’s face is truly joy. Listen to this week’s episode of the Raising Your Paws podcast.



Here is the photo I spoke about in the show of Rosy with an open mouth and corners raised – Yep, we could call that a smile right? Problem is at the time, she could also just have been warm – and cooling off –  as you know that dogs release heat by panting.  


Anyway, now that you know more about your dog’s lips from listening to the podcast – lets have some fun.




Raising Your Paws Smiling Dog Photo Contest.






Come on, you know you think your dog has a great smile –  We want to see that.


Send me one or two photos of your dog that looks to you like they are smiling and include your dog’s name.


I’ll choose about 6-8 of the most engaging photos and post them here on a future blog. And for your dog being selected, I’ll send you some great NutriSource Pet Food coupons so you can reward your doggie.


To be considered, all photos need to be sent to me by March, 31, 2020.


Send to susan@raisingyourpaws.com.   Good luck, I can’t wait to see your dog’s photo.




Full Show Notes for Raising Your Paws – Episode 61.


Title: The Emotional Benefit of Positive Reinforcement Dog Training & Do Dogs Actually Smile?


First, you might think that when a cat hisses at something, it means they feel mad. This is not the case. I’ll explain what cats may be feeling that causes them to hiss, how a cat’s hiss is similar to a dog’s growl and offer tips of how to handle your cat when they hiss at you.


Then, I’ll continue my conversation from the last episode, with Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President of Karen Pryor Clicker Training, and author of The Eye of the Trainer: Animal Training, Transformation and Trust.


When training your dog, can punishing it for doing the wrong thing, negatively affect how your dog feels about you?   You’ll get the answer to that question, and hear the story of a German shepherd named Serena, whose training resulted in her being able to help a trapped firefighter.


Plus, do you think your dog smiles? The expression on your dog’s face may look like a smile to you, you may call it a smile but is it really the same thing – do dogs really smile like we do to express happiness?


Your mouth and lips contribute to the many different facial expressions you have, that can communicate your feelings. This is true for dogs as well. We’ll analyze the expression dogs have that we think may look like the dog is smiling.


News! Smiling Dog Photo Contest.


To accompany the segment about dog’s happy facial expressions, we’re going to have a smiling dog photo contest. Send me one or two photos of your dog’s face when you think they are smiling. I’ll select about 6 – 8 of the most engaging photos to post on our raising your paws website along with your dog’s name and I’ll send you some great coupons for NutriSource pet food.


Send your photo to susan@raisingyourpaws.com. Please include your and your dog’s name and your mailing address. The contest will last until the end of March, 2020.


Additional Resources for the Show.


Source for the story about cat’s hissing – “Cat Wise” by Pam Johnson-Bennett.


Why Dog’s Growls Are a Good Thing – listen to Raising Your Paws episode 15.


Ken Ramirez Website.


How to order “Eye of the Trainer” by Ken Ramirez.


Karen Pryor Clicker Training Website.


Karen Pryor Clicker Training on Facebook – Videos of Ken Ramirez.


Follow Ken on Twitter @KenKPCT


Follow Ken on Instagram ken_ramirez_kpct


Find a certified Karen Pryor positive reinforcement trainer.


Source for the story about dog’s expressions -”For the Love of a Dog” by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.