Smiling; in a dog sense

A happy face yes; but not the toothy smile I'm talking about.

Human smiling:   to assume a facial expression indicating pleasure, favor, or amusement.  Characterized by an upturning of the corners of the mouth.

Dog smiling; a flash of a dogs front teeth, it can be a fraction of a second flash or a longer drawn out flash.  Typically accompanied with squinting eyes and lowered body posture.  A submissive gesture.

Dog smiles; many people say that their dog smiles but what they are usually explaining is the relaxed mouth of a happy dog and often the mouth is open.  This is commonly the case when you have been out for the day or even a walk with your dog, they are indeed happy but it is not a true smile in a dog sense.  

A dog smile is a visual display of teeth, body, eyes and ears.  They will lower their body, squint their eyes, flatten their ears and flash you a big toothy grin.  Smiling can happen when a dog is feeling exceptionally submissive or in greeting.  Elsa smiles, her first smile was delivered to my son Brad who is also the recipient of most of Tilley's smiles over the years.  Tilley has always smiled, I love smiling dogs.  Her favorite person has always been my son and it is he who receives most of Elsa's smiles as well. 

My husband receives huge smiles from Elsa when he comes home from work each evening.  Strangers have gotten a good smile from Elsa, my daughters and friends.  Over the past months I have received only 2 smiles and that was after a long absence.  Even though Elsa is quite a confident puppy she has a submissive factor about her as well.  Like I often say about dogs, she is complicated yet simple; much like her big brother Luke.

Elsa smiles during greetings, it does not have to be a family member.  She smiled at one of her trainers a couple of months ago when we first entered the building.  She smiled at the cable guy yesterday, this was a much more exuberant smile than normal.  It was accompanied with body wiggles, an immensely wagging tail and jumping all over the guy.  The cable guy had been at our home for hours but Elsa had been napping; he walked into the living room and was greeted by a very excited and surprised Elsa.

Luke has never smiled although several times over the year it has looked like he is almost going to.  His face crinkles in a pre smile position but the smile has never come.  Although Luke has never displayed the full front teeth flash of a true canine smile he does have a very  happy and relaxed "smile" face as many people know the dog smile to be.  But a true smile is a very precise behavior delivered only as a canine can.  

I have yet to capture a good smile but am shooting for it all the time.  I have to set everything up correctly to capture the smile and typically I am on the wrong end to get it.  I can get the lowered body posture, and the ear position but that's all from the rear.  I will have to enter into the house by my sons side to truly capture the fully delivered Elsa smile.

Many people think that a dog is being aggressive when they smile; after all we are shown a flash of a dogs pearly whites when we get one.  It is very close to an aggressive display but the body is the secret; you must watch the entire body to get the full message.  When you see one you will know that you have indeed been smiled at.