How To Teach Your Dog To Smile?
[In 4 Ways]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Dogs have their way of expressing happiness and a relaxed state of mind. Most of us have seen the dog’s mouth wide open and tongue hanging out. This gesture is an act of being happy for canines. It can also indicate they want to play with you.

So if you’re thinking of teaching your dog to smile with teeth, then you have come to the perfect place. Making them smile with teeth is not the easiest thing to do, but it is achievable provided you follow the correct process. Once you master the same, it will be a heartwarming experience seeing your beloved buddy brighten your day with a wide smile. There are also some good mental health benefits for dogs when they smile. 

In this article, we will go through various tried and tested techniques (effectively training sessions) to make your dog smile. Let’s get started with dog training.

Ways To Make Your Dog Smile

Before initiating your “Mission Doggo Smile,” ensure that they are comfortable in your home environment. If they feel uncomfortable and you still go ahead with their obedience training session, the chances are they will get aggressive or bite you. 

Is there anything better than a dog smiling? Teach your dog to smile. It’s worth it. 

Sometimes they open their mouths and put their tongues out while they’re panting or snarling in anger too. Therefore, it is imperative to analyze your dog’s current mood before you embark upon making them smile.

Positive Reinforcement

Just like us, dogs also need a reason to be happy. Whenever they showcase positive behavior, reward them with treats or shower praises (Positive Reinforcement). This will encourage them to repeat the action and lead to a smile in most cases.

Using the same logic, when they smile the next time, feed them their favorite treats, and you can expect more smiles from them in the days to come. Assigning a physical command that makes them smile is also a good idea. It will make it more straightforward for them the next time you demand a smile.

Whisker Tickling

Another method is to try ticking the dog’s whiskers. As a response, they will lift their lips. At that moment, you can provide them a treat. So the next time you tickle their whiskers, they will give a smiling expression. They may even lift their lips on their own to receive more treats.

Identifying the ticklish spots in a dog’s body can be an intelligent way of making them smile or give a submissive grin. You can even get a camera ready to capture the natural behavior for some fun memories.

This step may succeed in a few minutes, or it can take weeks. The important thing is to be patient and never use force or other forms of violence to make the dog smile. Punishing them for not responding to training will only make things worse. They will lose interest in the whole process.

Using A Clicker

Clickers are small tools that emit a high-frequency sound that captures a dog’s attention. Next time your dog smiles, hit a training clicker and give them a treat. You can remodel their behavior in this way. 

The next time they hear the clicker, they will be inclined to smile to get a treat. With sufficient repetitions, they will start associating the sounds to actions they need to perform.

Transition From Physical To Verbal Command

Once you have gained a good grasp on making your dog smile via a physical cue, you can think of making a switch to a verbal cue. This change will also help you take photos or videos in parallel while the dog smiles.

Please keep in mind to make the transition slowly and steadily instead of rushing things and nullifying the progress made so far.

Please start the process with the same physical command that made them smile. In addition, use the verbal command along with it. With time, the sound of the verbal command will be a part of the whole command in their mind. 

Follow this by gradually stopping the physical command and only use verbal cues. Assess the success rates while doing so. If your dog is responding well so far, stop the physical element completely. And there you have it; your dog will now start to smile at your verbal commands alone.

At the end of these steps, reward your dog handsomely to reinforce this significant achievement.

Points To Remember

There are a few pointers to consider while you attempt the above steps for better results. We will list them in this section:

  • Each dog has their learning curve. Respect and accept that fact and never use violence or haste to make your dog smile.
  • Keep the training sessions limited to 10-15 minutes regularly divided throughout the week.
  • Limit the number of treats. Providing treats each time they smile can lead to it being considered as a bribe. Giving random treats once in a while is a good ploy.
  • Alter the treats. Feeding them different treats will keep them guessing and cement the behavior even further in their mind.
  • Regularly assess their moods. Never continue to train your dog if they start getting moody or aggressive. Stop the session right away when you sense this. 
  • Do not stop the regular physical training or cognitive exercises of your dog. Ensure that goes as planned along with the smile training.

Teaching Your Dog To Show Teeth

A dog’s smiling and showing teeth can be two separate phenomena. For instance, dogs can show their complete set of teeth while in aggressive behavior. It can be a warning or a sign of showcasing dominance. 

On the other hand, when dogs smile, they only show a few teeth, and the expression looks more like a grin. Here, we will discuss the steps involved in getting your dog to show their teeth.

Offer A Reward 

Let them know that they’re working for a gift by demonstrating it. This action will boost their interest in the activity. You may start by feeding them a treat to lighten their mood.

Define A Command Word

Use any word of your choice. But ensure it is short and easy to understand for the dog. Start by uttering the word, then move their lips apart for them.

Separating The Dog’s Lips

Once the dog is comfortable moving the lips apart, try to open their lips from the front and sides slowly. Keep using the same command applied in the previous step. Feed them treats each time their teeth are visible.

Repeat The Process

Repeat the above three steps until the dog is comfortable to do so themselves while given the correct command. Unlike the smile, the teeth-showing movement does not come naturally to them and requires some time.

After a few repetitions, they will tend to move their lips and show the dog’s teeth.

These are the general steps you can try to make your dog display their teeth. In the upcoming section, we will be talking about some of the commonly asked questions regarding dogs and their smiles.

Frequently Asked Questions on Dog Smiles

Q.Are Dogs Angry When They Show Their Teeth?

Sometimes dogs show their complete set of teeth while growling. This reaction does not mean they’re always aggressive. Sometimes they may want some alone time when you try to shower affection in the form of hugs or cuddles. 

So the best option is to leave them alone for a while till they are calm and relaxed again.

Q. Are There Different Kinds Of Dog Smiles?

Yes. Dogs can display different smiles. When your dog opens its mouth fully with the tongue hanging out, it generally means they are happy and relaxed.

In contrast, when a growling element is involved, this may not be the case. They may be annoyed or feeling territorial

Q. How To Bring About A Dog Smile Naturally?

You can try the tickle method we discussed earlier in this article to bring about a natural smile on your dog. Belly rubs and pats are also helpful in inducing some happiness on their faces.

Q. What Are The Benefits Of Making Your Dog Smile?

Being in a happy and relaxed state of mind can be extremely beneficial to your dog’s health. Dogs can go into depression when they are ignored and do not get the care they desire. Teaching them to smile can generate feel-good hormones and lead them to be pleasant and happy.

It’s like a child playing with their favorite toy!

Q. What Do Dogs Think When They Smile?

They may not be thinking about anything in particular when they show a big smile. Domestic dogs who have been around human owners for a long time may want to express their good mood through a smile. 

This response will be followed by the wagging of the dog’s tail to show their adoration towards their special humans.

Q. Should Owners Smile Back When Dogs Smile At Them?

Definitely, we encourage you to do so. Dogs who have been well socialized will tend to understand human body language quickly and react positively to them. This will lead to a stronger bond between both you and the pup. Who doesn’t love a happy dog?

Although smiling at stray dogs can lead to unpredictable results at times. Their interpretation of human gestures is pretty blunt and can perceive your smile in the opposite way.

Concluding Thoughts & Important Tips

You can get your dog to smile or show their teeth by following the essential tips we talked about in this article. The major thing to remember is that you need to be patient and simply wait. Each dog’s personality is different, and most dogs will react to your gestures with varying levels of intensity. Study their moods before attempting the training regimen, or things can end up badly for you and your pet.

An old dog can learn new tricks! 

Once they progress in the smile training process, ensure to reward them adequately when they do a good job. What matters more is spending quality time with them, caring for them, and showing that you are there for them as a responsible owner. This attitude itself will make them happy and satisfied pets.

Dog training requires effort and repetition. The transition from physical to verbal cues can also be a challenging affair. But believe us when we say that the hard work you put in will be a rewarding experience seeing your smiling dog. Please pay attention to them and notice the dog’s body language to understand what they are trying to express instead of blindly forcing them to invoke a smile. Never hesitate to seek veterinary advice if needed.

We hope you learned some valuable insights from our training tips and found the article helpful. Have fun training your dog, and make sure to click some precious moments while you reach your end goal.