Do You Know When Your Dog is Uncomfortable?

“He’s Still On My Head, Isn’t He?”


What a face! What is going on here?

This dog is making all sorts of amazing expressions. This video is great because of how close up it is, and you can see all the little twitchings of the ears, the nose, and the eyes — look at all the information that’s being transmitted right now!

Honestly, the dog probably does not care about the grasshopper on its head half so much as it cares about the camera being stuffed *right in its face*! A camera can look to a dog like one big, staring eye — and direct, prolonged, up close eye contact can be very scary for a dog.

You are seeing behaviors here which say:

“I’m not comfortable.”

“Please move back.”

“I mean you no harm.”

The soft, back-pointing ears demonstrate a lack of threat; the squinty eyes are the dog’s way of avoiding staring at the camera while still being able to see what it’s doing.

Can you see the dog’s eyes moving left and right to not look directly at the camera, while it blinks a lot, and keeps its eyes partly closed, so it is not in any way offering a stare? The dog is sitting, another “I’m not a threat, but I’m kind of scared” behavior, and it’s trying to quietly move its head away from the camera.

Do dogs smile?

What’s with the teeth? This part is complicated. Many dogs learn to “smile” from their human caretakers, and will make this face when they’re relaxed, but this dog doesn’t look too relaxed, does it?

If the corners of the lips were pushed more forward (towards the nose) instead of drawn back towards the ears, this would be an aggressive expression, but the drawn-back lip corners and the soft top of the muzzle (no wrinkles) tell you that this is a “worried and defensive” face — the first step on the road towards biting that annoying camera.

Defusing the situation before a dog bites

The otherwise soft face and unthreatening behavior tell us it’s probably a long road towards biting, but it’s a road nonetheless. Maybe we should “defuse” this behavior before the dog feels more uncomfortable and takes another step towards biting?

A great way to defuse this situation would be to back away, and move the camera out of this dog’s face. That’s what telephoto zooms are for! Then you might be able to film the grasshopper all day — the dog may not even actually be noticing the grasshopper at all.

It’s only polite to consider your pet’s feelings when making “funny videos”. It may be fun for the humans to film things like this, but this dog doesn’t look like it’s having much fun!