Why do dogs wag their tails?

April 13, 2012

When your dog wags its tail when it sees you, it is sending a clear message of friendliness and joy. It is just this quality of a dog’s greeting to its master that endears many a pet to its master’s heart. Your dog wags its tail to send a message about its status and current emotions.

Dog’s have social needs that can be met with their tail. When a dog sees another dog, a person or other animal, the dog can instantly communicate its feelings about the situation through its tail in such a way that the dogs may understand each other from a distance. Depending on the dog’s breed and style of tail, it may augment its body language with movements of its ear and body for better communication. This works for dogs with little or no tails and for dogs that do not rely on so much tail communication such as Rottweiler and pug breeds.

When a tail is held high, it indicates that the dog is feeling confident while a tail held low between its legs means that the dog is scared or submissive. A dog that holds its tail straight out probably is in a normal and alert mood, neither excited nor frightened. A relaxed dog holds its tail in a relaxed position.

A dog wag does not always mean friendliness or happiness. A dog signals its friendliness by wagging predominantly to the right and a wag that is mostly to the left means dominance and possibly aggression. A slow wag can mean that a dog does not understand what is happening or what its master is trying to say to it.

A dog will wag its tail slowly when it is watching someone or something under non-threatening circumstances. A quickly wagging tail that is held high means that the dog may feel dominant or if there is a bristling of the dog’s fur, this can mean aggression. A dog may also quickly wag its tail if the pet is very happy, such as when the dog expects a treat.

Dogs wag their tails to indicate their status and emotions in different situations. By signaling its place in the hierarchy to other dogs, a dog can avoid unnecessary fights and by indicating its emotions to other animals and people, the dog can send a clear message on the safety of approaching the dog. A dog’s wagging tail has tales to tell about its owner if you can read the signs.

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