Why Dogs Wag Their Tails
We have all seen a dog wagging its tail. Even if not everyone has seen it live, right in front of them, they have at least seen it on social media.
And we have been told a waggy tail means it’s a happy, happy dog. That’s a canine way of letting you know that it is in a jolly mood. In fact, dogs use their tails to communicate their feelings. A doggie’s tail is like our smile; it can say it all. Hence, it is important that you learn to read your dog’s tail language. This article covers why dogs wag their tails, so you can understand your dog’s feelings better.
How to read a dog’s mood by its tail
While a tail’s position and movement can say a lot about your dog’s mood, you must also notice the speed of its tail wag. Here are a few emotions a dog’s tail can convey:
When dogs are happy, they wag their tails at a moderate speed. Their tail is slightly upright, yet relaxed. Sometimes, dogs also wag their tail in circular motion when their heart is overflowing with joy. When your dog is on cloud nine, it may also wag its hips or the entire body. And if you have had a chance to see your pooch wag its body from its shoulders to its tail, you are one blessed human who knows your dog loves you.
A dog that’s feeling calm and composed will stand with a relaxed posture. It won’t wag, but it will hold the tail in a neutral position. A relaxed dog will wag its tail only if you evoke any emotion. You may have noticed some tail wagging when your dog is dreaming.
Dogs can get curious easily. All you need is a hint of a new smell to pique their curiosity. Once they hear or sniff something unfamiliar, dogs do not wag their tails but they stand in an alert position. Wondering what their tail looks like when curious? The tail is held still and straight out behind them.
If a happy body wag is the most pleasing sight, a panicking dog would be the most heart-wrenching thing to witness. However, before you reach out to them out of empathy, you must know that dogs are wired to express fear in two ways – submissive and aggressive.
If your pooch is feeling scared and submissive, it will tuck the tail between its legs. This emotion may or may not include a tail wag. If you see your dog wagging the tail while it is tucked between the legs, your fur baby might be feeling extreme fear. Avoid petting a submissive dog as it could easily turn aggressive.
When dogs are fearful and aggressive, they will move their tail into a vertical position. It is often stiff and arches over their back. If your dog wags its tail while in that position, it is ready to take anyone on. Like submissive dogs, leave the aggressive ones alone. They might bite anyone who tries to get near them. If you are unable to recognize an aggressive dog by its tail, look for other dog body language signs like growling, standing in a stiff posture, flattened ears, etc.
Though dogs are social beings, they sometimes like to be left alone. When dogs want to avoid any type of interaction, their body freezes (including their tail). And no, they are not being aggressive. It’s their way of requesting some time alone. If you choose to ignore this request and cross the boundaries, they might turn into a submissive or aggressive dog.
Fun fact about dog tail wags
A scientific study demonstrates that there is a difference between tail wags on the right-hand side and left-hand side. Researchers wanted to understand how dogs perceived tail wags on the right and left from other dogs. Hence, they monitored a few dogs as they watched dog videos. And here’s what they discovered:
Tail wags on the right-hand side:
Observer dogs remained composed when a dog wagged its tail on the right. It signifies that dogs convey positive emotions while wagging their tail towards the right-hand side.
Tail wags on the left-hand side:
Observer dogs seemed anxious every time they saw a dog wagging its tail towards the left. It means that dogs express negative feelings through left-hand-sided tail wags.
Do dogs get tired of wagging their tails?
Like every other canine activity, tail wagging also consumes energy. Since this act happens instinctively, dogs sometimes wag their tail against a furniture or wall. This can cause the tail to split open and bleed. To put it simply, dogs can get tired as well as injured through vigorous wagging. To avoid such injuries, it is imperative that you encourage calm behavior. This training is especially important if you are dealing with an over-excited dog.
Frequently asked questions
Why does my dog wiggle his tail when he sees me?
If your dog loosely wags its tail on seeing you, it most probably means that your pooch is happy to see you.
Why do dogs wag their tails?
A dog wags its tail to express different emotions like happiness, nervousness, aggression, etc. Their tails are like our facial expression, hard to control. So, always look at a dog's tail to read its mood.
Is it good when my dog wags his tail?
Dogs use their tails to communicate their feelings. So, if your dog wags his tail, he is trying to convey his emotions. You must understand different canine body language to comprehend why he is wagging his tail.
Do dogs know they are wagging their tails?
Waging is instinctive in dogs. They know they are wagging their tails, but they do not start doing it consciously.