A dog's tail is the most expressive part of their body. It's also one of the most endearing features that separate us from our furry buddies.
According to the scientist, the direction and position of the tail wag tell a lot about the emotional state of dogs. While some wags are associated with happiness, others can mean fear, insecurity, a social challenge or even a warning that if you approach, you are apt to be bitten. Like any other language, tail wags have a vocabulary and grammar that needs to be understood.
Find out what tale your dog’s tail is telling through the tail positions discussed below:
- If your dog’s tail is looking straight ahead with its tail perked up high and proud, it’s likely that it is also feeling perky. This tail posture indicates that your dog is showing off his confidence by displaying dominance
- If your dog is holding its tail straight out, keep an eye out to see if something or someone seems strange. This posture indicates that your dog is feeling threatened. Someone or something is scaring it, and your dog is considering attacking whatever it is.
- If your dog’s tail is carried up and slightly curved over its back it means, “I’m the top dog.” A confident and dominant dog who feels that it is in control will often express itself this way.
- If your dog’s tail is carried lower than the horizontal position but still has some distance from the legs you can be aware that your dog feels pretty relaxed and that all is well.
- If your dog’s tail is carried downward and closer to its hind legs it can mean they are either depressed, not feeling well or insecure, generally when they are in an unknown or new setting or situation.
- If your dog's tail is tucked between their hind legs, it signifies that they’re anxious or scared. It can mean "I'm scared!" or "Don't hurt me!" Tail carriage like this can also mean, "I'm not out to challenge you." This is especially common whenever the dog feels that it is in the presence of a more dominant dog or person.
- If your dog’s tail is bristling down its back this can often suggest a sign of aggression or potential confrontation. This meaning may also change in intensity if the dog modifies its tail position. So, if the tail is carried straight out from the body it means “I’m ready to fight if you are!” or if it moves the tail slightly up or over its back it means that “I’m not afraid of you and will fight to prove that I’m really the boss.” This is serious – especially if it happens between two dogs that won’t back down.
- If your dog has a nice broad tail wag from side to side, it shows a friendly signal. It means that the dog is not challenging or threatening you. A broad wag also means that the dog is friendly, welcoming and pleased to see you. This kind of wag is probably the closest concept to the happiness wag, especially if the tail seems to drag the hips with it.
- If your dog is exhibiting a slow tail wag in neither a particularly dominant (high) nor a submissive (low) position is signs of insecurity. It can often mean “I’m confused”. For example: While meeting new person this indicates your dog is not sure if it should act submissively or try to be the alpha, and this is making it kind of nervous and confused.
- If your dog’s tail is wagging to the right, it means he or she is showing a positive, happy response to whatever is happening around him.
- If your dog’s tail is wagging to the right, it means he or she is encountering a person or other dog that isn't known to him, and he wants to show dominance.