A wagging tail does not always indicate a friendly or happy dog. A dog’s tail is like a human face. Knowing how to read those emotions can help you stay safe. Generally,
- a low slung dog tail indicates fear, anxiety or submissiveness
- a mid-set dog tail indicates a dog is calm
- a high-set or straight up dog tail indicates a dog is alert, excited or aggressive
- a tucked dog tail means “don’t hurt me”
In addition, a wagging tail favors the right of a dog’s rear end when it is feeling happy, positive, or confident. A waging tail to the left of a dog’s rear end indicates negative feelings, such as fear. The left side of a dog’s brain is in charge of emotions like love and attachment. The right brain controls feelings like fear and anxiety. So, when a dog is happy his left brain causes his tail to swing right and when he’s scared his right brain tells it to sway left.
Did you know?
- Dogs don’t wag their tails when they are alone
- A wagging tail can be voluntary or involuntary
- Dogs cover their genital area with their tails if they’re not ready to trust another dog. That’s because dogs gain information about another dog by sniffingscent glands in their anal area—so allowing that area to be exposed is a measure of trust
- A pup that chases its tail might suffer from OCD
- Dog tails were originally used for balance while walking or running small paths
- Dog tails are used as a navigation tool for swimming
- The dog tail is an extension of the spine. But, it is more flexible and has its own set of muscles, anchors and discs. The tail is also more exposed and active than the backbone, so there’s a greater chance of injury.
- Dog tails were docked to prevent injury when dogs worked in areas where their tails could get caught. Today, docking is mostly cosmetic.
- The term ‘wag the dog’ comes from the expression that a dog is smarter than its tail, but if the tail were smarter than the dog, the tail would be in control
Understanding how our pups communicate with their tails will help us be better pet parents and keep us safe.