Tips on How to Teach Your Dog To Smile

Dogs are known for being loyal and loving companions. They can also be great friends who love to have fun. One way to add more fun to your dog’s life is to teach them how to smile.

It may seem easy, but there are a few tips you’ll need to know before getting started. With a little patience and some dog treats, you’ll have your furry friend smiling in no time.

So, how to teach your dog to smile?

Keep reading as we teach you everything you need to know to get your pooch smiling for the camera!

How To Tell if a Dog Is Smiling?

The first step is to know how to tell if your dog is, in fact, smiling. Dogs don’t exactly smile as humans do, but there are a few ways to tell if they’re happy. Here are a few things to look for:

A Submissive Grin

A dog may show their teeth and pull back their lips when they feel subordinate or want to show submission. This is different from an aggressive baring of the teeth. 

A submissive grin is often combined with a lowered head and body, and the dog may also avoid eye contact.

Cued Smiling

Dogs can be trained to smile on cue. When you give the cue, the dog should show their teeth and pull back its lips in a grin. It’s often used as a party trick or for photos. 

While it may not be the same as a voluntary smile, it’s still an adorable way to get your dog to show their pearly whites.

Spontaneous Smiling

Dogs may also spontaneously smile when they’re feeling happy or content. This is often combined with other body language cues like a relaxed posture, wagging tail, and soft eyes.

black and brown dogs smiling

If you’re not sure whether or not your dog is smiling, ask your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for help.

Snarling Dog

This is the opposite of a smile and is an aggressive baring of the teeth. Snarling dogs often also have their hackles raised and may be growling. This is a sign that the dog is feeling threatened or angry and you should back away slowly.

Why Do Dogs Show Their Teeth When Happy

Dogs show their teeth when they are happy for two reasons. First, it is a way to show submission, and second, it releases endorphins that make them feel good.

When a dog sees another dog showing its teeth, it means that the latter is submissive and is not looking for a fight. This is why dogs will often show their teeth to humans when they meet them for the first time. 

It is a way of saying, “I’m not looking for trouble.”

Dogs also show their teeth when they are happy because it releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that make us feel good and are released when we experience pleasure. 

When a dog is showing its teeth and its gums are exposed, it is releasing endorphins into its bloodstream. This makes the dog feel good and can even make it a little bit sleepy.

So, if you see your dog showing its teeth, it is probably happy and just trying to show you that it is submissive and not looking for a fight.

However, if you are concerned that your dog is showing its teeth too much, or if it seems to be showing its teeth in a threatening way, you should consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. 

They will be able to help you determine if there is a problem and how to address it.

How To Teach Your Dog to Smile With Teeth

Many dog owners want their dogs to smile with teeth, but they don’t know how to go about teaching this behavior. Here are a few tips on how you can teach your dog to smile with teeth:

#1 – The Basic Technique

The first thing you’ll need to do is get your dog comfortable with having his or her mouth touched. Start by gently petting your dog’s head and muzzle, then progress to lightly rubbing the outside of his or her lips. 

Once your dog is comfortable with this, you can begin working on opening his or her mouth.

To do this, place your thumb on one side of your dog’s muzzle and your index finger on the other side. Gently push the sides of the muzzle together and then release. You may need to do this a few times before your dog gets the hang of it.

Once your dog is comfortable with you opening his or her mouth, you can begin working on getting him or her to show his or her teeth. Start by saying the command “smile” in a happy voice while you simultaneously open your dog’s mouth and expose his or her teeth.

You may need to do this a few times before your dog understands what you’re asking, but with patience and consistency, he or she will eventually catch on.

#2 – The Tickle Method

Another way to get your dog to expose his or her teeth is by tickling the roof of the mouth with your finger. This may take a few tries, but eventually, your dog will start to open his or her mouth whenever you do this.

happy dog outdoors loves pets on his head

Once your dog is responding consistently, you can begin saying the command “smile” while you tickle the roof of his or her mouth. With enough practice, your dog will learn to associate the command with the action and will eventually start smiling on cue.

#3 – The Clicker Strategy

If you’re having trouble getting your dog to smile with the methods above, you can try using a clicker. The clicker is a small, handheld device that makes a clicking sound when pressed.

To use the clicker to train your dog to smile, simply press the button every time your dog shows his or her teeth. Eventually, your dog will associate the clicking sound with the desired behavior and will start to smile on cue.

Be sure to click and treat immediately after your dog smiles, so he or she knows that the behavior is being rewarded.

#4 – The Treat Strategy

If your dog isn’t responding to the clicker, you can try using calming treats instead. Whenever your dog smiles, give him or her a small treat as a reward.

Be sure to keep the treats small, so your dog doesn’t get too full and lose interest in smiling. Also, be sure to give them a treat immediately after your dog smiles, so he or she knows that the behavior is being rewarded.

With a little patience and persistence, you’ll be able to teach your dog to smile on cue in no time!

Tips When Training Your Dog To Smile

Training your dog to smile can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend.

However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when doing so:

  • Be patient

Like with most things in life, teaching your dog to smile will take time and patience. Do not get discouraged if your dog doesn’t seem to be getting it right away – keep at it and eventually they’ll catch on.

Patience is especially important if you’re using treats as a reward for your dog smiling. If your dog isn’t responding to the treat, don’t keep shoving it in their face – this will only frustrate them (and you). Instead, try breaking the treat into smaller pieces or offering it to them less frequently.

  • Don’t over-train

Just like with people, dogs can get tired of doing the same thing over and over again. If you find that your dog is no longer responding to the commands or getting bored during training, take a break and try again later.

Too much training can also lead to your dog becoming stressed, which is the opposite of what we’re going for here. A short training session a few times a week is usually all that’s needed to teach your dog to smile.

  • Be Attentive

Your dog will communicate with you through their body language, and it’s important to be aware of what they’re trying to say. If your dog starts to look uncomfortable, stressed, or tired, take a break from training.

smiling light brown dog on young woman's arms

It’s also important to watch for signs that your dog is enjoying themselves – a wagging tail, relaxed body posture, and (of course) a big doggy smile are all good indications that they’re happy and having fun.

  • Consistency

As with anything in life, consistency is important when teaching your dog to smile. If you only work on it once in a while, your dog is unlikely to ever really learn the behavior.

Pick a few times each week to work on training, and stick to those times as much as possible. This will help your dog to know when it’s time to focus and pay attention, and they’ll be more likely to catch on as a result.

Dogs respond well to consistent, routine behavior – so the more consistent you can be, the better.

  • Keep things fun

Remember, the goal here is to have fun with your dog – if it starts to feel like a chore, take a break or try something different. There are lots of different ways to train your dog to smile, so experiment until you find something that works for both of you.

The more fun or enjoyment you can get out of the experience, the more likely your dog is to associate smiling with good things. And a happy, smiling dog is a sign of a successful training session!

  • Keep training sessions short

Dogs have shorter attention spans than we do, so it’s important to keep training sessions short and sweet. If you try to train for too long, your dog is likely to get bored or frustrated, and they’ll be less likely to catch on as a result.

A good rule of thumb is to keep training sessions to around 5-10 minutes, and then give your dog a break. This will help to keep them focused and interested, and they’ll be more likely to retain what they’ve learned.

  • Find your dog’s favorite pleasure point

Some dogs enjoy treats, while others prefer petting or verbal praise. Find out what your dog responds best to and use that as a reward for good behavior.

This will not only help to keep your dog motivated, but it will also make the experience more enjoyable for both of you. After all, who doesn’t like being rewarded for a job well done?

  • Know when to end the training session

It’s important to know when to call it quits – if your dog is no longer responding to the commands or showing any interest in training, it’s time to end the session.

This doesn’t mean that your dog has completely mastered the behavior – but it’s a good indication that they’re getting tired and need a break.

End each training session on a positive note, with your dog doing something that they’re comfortable with and enjoy. This could be a trick that they know well, or simply a session of cuddles and petting.

Whatever you do, make sure that your dog is happy and relaxed by the end of the session – this will help to ensure that they associate training with positive experiences.

  • Use positive reinforcement

Whenever your dog does something you want them to, such as smiling on cue, be sure to give them plenty of praise and affection. This will let them know that they’re doing the right thing and encourage them to keep it up.

smiling brown puppy on the grass

On the other hand, if your dog makes a mistake or doesn’t do what you want them to, never punish them – this will only make them fearful and less likely to want to participate in training.

Remember, the goal is to have fun and build a positive relationship with your dog – so keep things light and positive, and you’re sure to have success.

Our Readers Favorite Questions

How Do I Make My Dog Smile?

The easiest way to make your dog smile is to show him or her how much you enjoy their company. Spend time playing with your dog, give them treats and praise them often. If you make sure your dog knows that they are loved and appreciated, they will naturally want to please you by smiling back at you.

Can Dogs Be Taught To Smile?

Yes, dogs can be taught to smile on command. Start by showing your dog some treats and saying the word “smile” in a happy voice. When your dog looks at you, give them the treat and praise them.

With time and patience, your dog will learn that the word “smile” means they should show their teeth in a happy expression.

How Do You Make a Dog Smile With Teeth?

There is no one guaranteed way to make a dog smile with teeth, but you can try using treats and praise as positive reinforcement.

Start by showing your dog the treat and saying “smile.” When your dog opens their mouth, give them the treat and praise them. Repeat this process until your dog responds consistently.

Can Dogs Smile on Command?

Yes, dogs can learn to smile on command with some training. By following some simple steps and using positive reinforcement, you can teach your dog to show its pearly whites when you ask.

Like all dogs, some will respond better to this type of training than others, so be patient and have fun with it!


It may have surprised you, but how to teach your dog to smile is not as difficult as you first thought.

Teaching your dog to smile can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. By using positive reinforcement and keeping the training sessions short and sweet, you’ll be sure to have success.

Most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy the process – your dog will pick up on your energy and attitude, so make sure it’s a positive one!

So what are you waiting for? Get started today and see the difference it makes in your relationship with your furry friend!

Does your dog smile? How did you teach your dog to smile?

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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