Your dog’s tail is an invaluable means of communication. Long, short, curly, or straight, dog tails serve as an indicator of how they’re feeling. It is common knowledge that a wagging tail means a happy dog, but this is not always the case. Dogs use their entire body to communicate, so you will often need to look at the rest of their body Body language and the situation they are in to understand how they really feel.
We created this handy guide to explain why dogs wag their tails and what all the different wagging movements can mean.
Why do dogs wag their tails?
Tail wagging is an instinctive behavior that develops between 3 and 4 weeks depending on your age Dog breedand is one of the most important communication methods for other dogs and people. While it is commonly believed that dogs wag their tails to show they are happy, this can also happen for other reasons, such as nervousness and excitement.
Dog Tail Marks and Positions – What Do They Mean?
To decipher what it means when your dog wags its tail, you need to take a step back and check the position of the tail, as well as the speed of the car itself. Read on to learn more about why dogs wag their tails and the different dog tail signs.
Natural position, not a prankster
This position indicates relaxation in your dog. Most dogs’ natural tail positions hang near their heels, but this will depend on the breed of your dog. The ones with curly tails like Samoyed will curl them down your back in the natural position.
Erect, wagging tail
You may think that an upright, wagging tail is telling you that your dog is happy, but this is actually behavior that usually occurs in excited dogs, which means their behavior may be unpredictable. It could be because they saw a squirrel or a new visitor arrived at the house – anything that makes them excited could be why dogs are wagging their tails.
Backwards and gently wiggling
This dog tail sign says they are curious and may not be sure of a situation. You can see this when looking at a strange object or creature that you have never seen before.
Tail between the legs
If your dog’s tail has or is tucked between its legs, it means that he may need some space as he may feel nervous or anxious. If they are making small, throbbing movements or twitches at the same time, it may indicate that they are thinking about a fight or flight response.
A big, carefree cart is the best kind as it actually indicates a happy dog! This can also be accompanied by a full body jiggle that says your dog is extremely happy and ready to interact.
If their tail is high in the air and rigid, be careful how this dog tail sign can indicate Aggression in dogs. It’s usually best to give them as much space as possible and wait for them to calm down before interacting with them.
The direction of the car
According to Live ScienceThe direction of the wobble speaks volumes. When the tail is wagging to the right it is usually positive, while it is to the left it is generally negative, which indicates fear, stress or anxiety. This is because the left hemisphere – the part of the brain associated with positive feelings – controls the right side of the body.
Interesting, a study from 2013 mentions that dogs can also decipher the meaning of the direction of a tail wag in other dogs. Using 43 dogs of different breeds, the study showed videos of dogs wagging their tails right and left to see how they reacted, using a vest to monitor their heart rate. When a dog was shown with a right wagging tail, most stayed relaxed and some even tried to get closer to the dog on the screen, indicating that this must be a positive signal. The other dogs were shown a video of a left car and they showed symptoms of anxiety and their heart rate actually increased.
The importance of tails
Where are the answers to the question “Why do dogs wag their tails?” is usually communication related, there are a whole host of other useful things you can do too! Dr. Lisa Radosata from Florida Veterinary Behavior Service says their tail can act as an oar when swimming in the water and is key to their balance when running, as they can make tight turns without falling over.
In the past few years, many owners and breeders have chosen to dock their dog’s tails, which is usually for cosmetic reasons. The procedure is now illegal in the UK as it is unnecessary and can affect your dog’s communication methods and balance. When a dog has a docked tail, it is often difficult to decipher the dog’s tail signs and tell how they’re feeling, as they won’t be able to use any of their main communication devices to alert you to their mood.
In the past few years, many owners and breeders have chosen to dock their dog’s tails, which is usually for cosmetic reasons. The procedure is now illegal in the UK as it is unnecessary and can affect your dog’s communication methods and balance. When a dog has a docked tail it is often difficult to tell how he is feeling because he is unable to use any of his main communication devices to alert you to his mood.
So now you know why dogs wag their tails! It’s important to remember that wiggling doesn’t always indicate a happy dog. You should always look at the bigger picture to see how your dog is really feeling.
Related: Discover the reasons behind this why dogs have whiskers.