All animals communicate through body language. It is their way of letting other animals and humans what they are thinking and especially what they’re feeling. Dogs show their emotions in an array of ways. Without being able to speak, other than barking, which is also a form of communication, their primary way of communicating to us is through body language and they use multiple body parts to convey what they are feeling. If you think of the little movements they make with different body parts, from their ears, mouths, tail, body, and eyes, they can tell us a lot of what is going on in their minds. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and the saying doesn’t just apply to humans. A dog’s eyes are very expressive and can convey many different feelings and emotions. You can see a dog’s surprise in his eyes, his fear, anger, happiness, and more. Most of the expressions are easy to read, but have you ever encountered a dog when he was showing the whites of his eyes and wondered what does it mean when a dog shows the whites of his eyes, which is also referred to as “Whale eye”? Well, we have the answer.
Playful expressions of whites of a dog’s eyes
The whites of a dog’s eyes can show for different reasons. For instance, if you have ever been playing with your dog and he stops his playful activity and looks up at you without ever moving his head, exposing the whites of his eyes? This is a playful gesture that shows he is being a clown. He looks like he’s thinking about his next silly move, or about to get mischievous. This is a time when the whites of his eyes will be showing, but you might also see his tail wagging in a playful mood or he gets the body wiggles. There is typically no threat expressed when the whites of his eyes are showing in this manner.
Guilty dogs often show a facial expression that exposes the whites of his eyes. For instance, if you walk into your home and find garbage strewn all over the kitchen. You know the only culprit it can be is the one who’s been in the house alone all day, you’re beloved dog. He immediately gets a guilty look when he sees you, knowing he is the one who caused the mess. Dogs with guilt will often sit there staring at you with sheepish, eyes when you start to scold them and expose the whites of their eyes due to nervousness for what they might get for being in trouble. This is a combination without raising his head, showing the whites of his eyes with a tension-free wiggly body, open mouth and almost smiling face? This dog is playful, not frightened. In this case, you should choose your battle carefully. When you see the whites of your dog’s eyes and know he’s feeling fearful, try not to exacerbate the situation and make him feel more nervous and frightened. Realize how he feels and speak to your dog accordingly.
Try to understand what is causing your dog to express Whale eyes
There are a lot of other body gestures that give you a hint as to whether or not a dog’s “Whale eyes” are indicating a potential threat to you, or another mood. If you see the whites of a dogs eyes, take a moment and look for other indications that might tell you whether this could be a sign of a possible threat to you. Here are other signs to watch for:
- Cowering or hiding
- Lip licking or tongue flicking movements
- Stiff and tense body posture
- A tight, closed mouth
- Ears poised out, and to the side of his head, and pinned back
- They’re eyes look away from you and unlock your gaze
- Offer either direct or indirect staring
What should you do if you encounter a dog that offers whale eyes?
If you come a cross a dog, or your own dog exposes the whites of his eyes, here is what you should do. You need to pay attention to the dog’s mood and mannerism. Is he showing any other signs of a specific attitude or mood. Pay attention to what is going on with the dog’s other body language, such as his tail being held down between his legs or pointed out straight in an aggressive manner. Is his mouth and jaws closed tight or appear to have a frightful face, or friendly face? Do his ears have a friendly and relaxed look to them, or do they appear to be in an aggressive type position that looks as if he might be in fear or angry?
The more you know about the situation by assessing what is not only going on with his other body language signs, but with the situation in general, you can help to diffuse the situation just by what you say and how you react. If you know your dog is stressed or in a stressful situation, talk in a relaxed manner and try to calm him down. If see that he is nervous or scared, comfort him and reassure him. If he is angry and you see the situation that is causing the anger, try to diffuse the situation. If you cannot get him to calm in an angry type situation that is responsible for his whites of his eyes to be showing, you may need to leave the room and remove yourself from the situation to protect yourself if you suspect he may get aggressive.
The more you understand about a dog showing the whites of his eyes, the more prepared you will be to deal with the situation.