Tail wagging: what is my dog trying to tell me?

Tail wagging is one of the most important parts of dogs’ body language: it’s their way to express emotions and feelings. Dogs learn how to wag their tail when they are about 3 or 4 weeks old. From that moment on, they do it hundreds of times a day for the rest of their lives.

Learning to differentiate a happy tail wagging from an anxious one is a challenging yet essential task. Getting acquainted with your dog’s body language is the best way to provide him with the best care. If your dog is feeling anxious, angry, or simply excited, he will communicate it to you through tail wagging ergo, it is an excellent tool you can use to know your dog’s needs.

 Different meanings of tail wagging

Depending on their feelings and the daily situations they go through, a dog’s tail can be:

  • High: it means they are curious, excited, and alert. This is the typical behavior you can observe when your dog is sniffing another dog in the park.

  • Lowered: this shows they are anxious, stressed, or scared. Your dog will place his tail between his legs and if he gets too frightened, he will hide it under his body.

  • Neutral: they are calm and cheerful. There’s nothing to worry about.

  • Vertical: they are showing a dominant attitude. If your dog’s tail has moved from neutral to vertical, it can be a sign of aggression. 

  • Moving fast: this means they are happy and excited. This is the kind of tail wagging your dog usually gives you when you arrive home.
  • Moving slowly: this movement indicates a decrease in his excitement, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing:it can mean he is still happy but chilled. However, bear in mind that if his tail movement is super slow, it can indicate insecurity.

Another important sign to take into account is the direction of tail wagging. Studies have shown that if your dog’s tail is wagging to the right, it means your dog is happy and relaxed. On the contrary, if it is wagging to the left, your dog is probably feeling stressed, nervous and agitated. 

Our dogs are talking to us

There is nothing more satisfying that feeling you are truly understanding your best friend. Even though they indicate very different emotions, these meanings of tail wagging have something in common: your dog is open to interaction If your dog’s tail is stiff and shows no movements, it can indicate aggression or it can be related to a health issue, in which case you should contact your vet.

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