Learn to Read “Dog” Tail

That wiggly behind on your dog may be telling you a whole lot more than you thought.

Wagging butts and tails come in all sizes! Short and stubby, long and fuzzy, straight and curly. Butts with no tails and tails that twirl or sweep off the coffee table. Tails are as diverse as the dogs proudly display them, but what’s all that wagging and wiggling about?

Doggie Tail Language

Dogs use their tails to communicate with dogs, other animals and even their owners. It’s a unique language based on tail motions and positions and can be specific to the breed of your pet.

A wagging tail is not always a happy tail. Learning to read your dog’s butt wiggle and tail swing can help you to understand your dog’s emotional state and prevent unhappy events. With a little practice, you’ll quickly be able to see your dog’s tail-tell-signs.

How to Read Tail

The first step in learning to read tail language is to know the natural position of your dog’s tail. Most tails will hand down near their heels, but breeds such as pugs have tails that curl upward and some dogs have little nubby tails or no-tail-at-all. Spend some time observing your dog and pay attention to its position when your dog is relaxed and just hanging out.

Once you think you understand your dog’s natural position start to look and observe some of the following tail signs. Keep in mind tail reading is an art and different tails bend different ways. Careful observation will help you to identify your dog’s language.

Here is what to look for:

Frightened or Submissive: The tail is lower than its natural position. Tucked under its body or between the legs.

Worried or insecure: Tail hangs low and may had a little wag in it.

Aroused or Alert to something: Tail stands higher than the natural position. – “Squirrel!”

Aggression: Tail is vertical or the most vertical position it can achieve.

Curiosity: Tail hangs toward the ground. Observe when your dog is simply sniffing out an area.

Excitement: Tail wagging and held high. Tail wags left and right – Happy to see you. Happy to play with you.

Right Wag: A tail that wags to the right indicates your dog is happy or in a positive state of mind. They are confident and approachable.

Left Wag: A tail that wags to the left indicates your dog is feeling negative and possibly frightened. He may even want to leave the area.

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left right and neutral dog tail signs

A Little Science in the Wag

The Right Wag / Left Wag has been researched to show that a dogs left brain hemispheres control the right side of the body and the right brain hemisphere controls the left side of the body. A study done on approach-avoidance behavior in dogs found positive and negative feelings effect different sides of the brain. The left hemisphere is associated with positive approach feelings and the right hemisphere associate negative-avoidance feelings.

Will My Dogs Tail Wag When He is Alone

If your dog is alone it is unlikely that he/she will wag its tail unless you have other pets around. You could provoke a response if your pet hears your voice on a recorder or pet cam in anticipation of communicating with you.

Can My Dog Read Tail?

Surprisingly puppies aren’t’ born with wiggling tails. The tails primary purpose is to help the dog balance. Puppies learn to read other puppies tail signs after they have become accustomed to walking around and start making longer strides from the safety of mothers “den”. This is around 6-8 weeks. The behavior may start with puppy play as an alert to others they want to play or sticking a tail up to tell others they’ve had enough.

As your dog becomes socialized with other dogs they become astute tail readers. Your dog can pick up on the tail signs of other dogs even down to the left or right tail wag. Studies have shown dogs will  relax more around right tail wagers and become more stressed around left tail wagers.

So How Can This Help Me?

Knowing your dog’s body language and paying attention to its tail when your around other people can help you to defuse a stressful situation before it gets out of control. You can prevent your dog from biting a person or fighting with another dog.

I hope this information was helpful if not entertaining: Please feel free to share with with proper credit and a link back to this site.

Bark Bark

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