Turns out one of the most instagrammable smiles out there may be a sign of something bothering your dog.
It’s ok. Sometimes dogs show that award-winning smile to let you know they want some space. Maybe they’re just being submissive, and that’s their way of saying “you’re the boss,” or it might be that there’s a new dog in town, and they’re smiling to ascertain dominance.
So long as they don’t show aggressive behavior, it’s usually an issue you can easily fix by paying close attention to their body language. “Wait a minute. Showing teeth sounds pretty aggressive already.” Well, not necessarily. Believe it or not, it could also be related to illnesses or injuries. That’s why you gotta keep your eyes open for all of those signs when they just seem to be smiling.
As a dog trainer and pet parent to Cocoa, the silliest and most loving chocolate lab ever, this is one of the questions that I get the most, and I can tell you conditioning may also be one of the reasons which is why you have to be careful not to normalize a possible warning.
Now that we’ve established the most common scenarios, I’d like to give you some tips to help you understand your dog’s behavior and determine whether they’re being aggressive, submissive, or just uncomfortable.