Rhodesian Ridgeback breed dog lies and smiles broadly with teethSource: By SikorskiFotografie/Shutterstock


Dogs play a significant role in the life of human beings. People view dogs as a member of the family, a best friend, a companion, and in some cases a protector. After you introduce a new dog to your family, you'll need to train them. This entails providing a safe and comfortable place to live, which includes a designated potty area such as a DoggieLawn that they can access easily. Providing a safe and loving home is the first step in preventing aggression. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell what is normal behavior and what isn't--especially if you're new to having dogs in your home. Learning and observing canine behaviors can help you tell the subtle differences in behaviors such as teeth baring.


Here at DoggieLawn, we have a dog friendly work environment and have occasionally noticed some of the dogs baring their teeth when playing with each other or getting their backs scratched. Seeing as to how both activities should bring pleasure, we became curious as to whether this behavior only indicated aggression and found out that it can be interpreted as an aggressive behavior or be a submissive smile. 


What does it mean that your dog is baring their teeth?


When most people talk about their dogs baring teeth, they simply mean that their dog is showing their teeth. When you notice your dog curling their tongue to reveal their teeth, you should be aware that this is reflexive and can be the result of a variety of situations. 


In most scenarios, when you see your dog showing their teeth, you should probably be cautious as it's usually a sign of aggression. You may also notice that your dog has erect ears, a high held tail that keeps moving back and forth, and a rigid posture. There are various reasons as to why a dog can start showing signs of aggression. Some common reasons include fear, resource guarding, and territoriality among others. Generally, aggressive behavior means that your dog is being pushed beyond their limits. Sometimes your dog is simply unhappy with their living conditions. For example, they may have developed anxiety from not having a designated area to go to the bathroom regularly. If so, getting a real grass pad can help your dog feel more comfortable. DoggieLawn absorbs your dog's urine and urine odor so they can go potty without having to wait for you to take them outside every time. If your dog is happy and less anxious, the chances of them being aggressive will be reduced. Nevertheless, use care when you notice your dog showing their teeth. Understand that dogs need time to adjust as well. If the behavior doesn't subside or becomes more prevalent, it would be wise to seek your vet's professional opinion.


Occasionally, your dog will show their teeth as a sign of submission. Submissive behavior is accompanied by lip licking, crying or whining, rolling, averting their gaze, putting their tail between their legs, ears lying on the head and relaxed body posture among others. In most cases, the submissive smile is usually an attempt to calm a situation down. You might notice your dog giving you a submissive grin when they're uncomfortable about a given situation. Puppies also use this expression when they want something or when they feel they're being treated aggressively by older dogs. These sorts of submissive generally do not progress to aggressive behavior.


How do you know which sign your dog is portraying?



When you notice your dog is in a relaxed posture with their tongue out, this typically means your dog is content. But sometimes, just looking at the smile or the baring of the teeth may not be enough to reveal what your dog is thinking or feeling. You'll have to pay attention to your dog's overall body language. Don’t just assume that your dog smiling means everything is okay. Facial expressions can be misunderstood and a smile might in fact be a sign of frustration. It could even be something as simple as your dog feeling hot and therefore stressed. So it's best to always look at the bigger picture before coming to a conclusion about your dog baring their teeth.


In conclusion, it's critical to provide a safe, loving, and comfortable home to prevent and/or remedy aggression. For example, you can get the best pet grass available to help your dog go to the bathroom regularly to prevent them from becoming stressed and therefore developing aggressive tendencies. Contact us today if you have a friend who has an aggressive dog that you think could use a break. Or better yet, use this link to send them a discount on their first lawn!