Why Do Dogs Lean?

Leaning can mean a variety of different things in
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Trying to analyze a dog's body language can be pretty tricky business. Although dogs often come across as pretty straightforward creatures, many of their actions are rather nuanced, too. For example, a simple leaning stance can indicate anything from a tender, loving gesture to a display of self-assured confidence.


If you observe your dog leaning to the front as he struts around, then he's very likely showing the world -- and you -- his dominance. Other clues of this include a high tail, forward ears and a tense, tight walking style. This body language often indicates that a dog is feeling confident. When a dog is in this mode, he won't shy away from engaging in direct eye contact with you. He also may not shy away from getting a little aggressive, whether your stare lingers for a second too long or you attempt to pet his head -- yikes.

Taking on a Fight

When a dog's feet appear to be firmly and tightly planted onto the ground as his body leans slightly forward, then this may be his way of saying that he is up for a fight. Perhaps the other party is provoking him persistently and he feels like he has no other choice but to give in. This body language often points to a dog who is reluctantly fully prepared to defend and protect himself, even if that means getting physical.


In some cases, a dog's leaning forward means nothing more than his pure interest in something. Something has your dog's attention -- the cutie is fully engaged. Whether it's a scrumptious-smelling filet mignon dinner on your plate or the loud sound of construction outside of your window, your doggie may be feeling pretty curious about it.

Loving and Territorial Behavior

If your doggie is leaning into your body, you can also take it as an endearing display of affection -- with a slightly territorial twist. He thinks of you as being "his" and loves you so much he wants to stop you from being able to physically get away from him. Scary and cute at the same time!


If a doggie is leaning to the back, it may be a sign that he's afraid of something, or perhaps feeling vulnerable and defeated. In any case, leaning back usually points to a nerve-racked doggie who isn't feeling at the top of his game for the moment. Look for other key signs of fear and anxiety in a leaning doggie, such as cowering, slight shivering, tucked tail and dilated pupils.