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What wagging tails tell you about your dog

Is it really true that dog's only wag their tails when they are happy? Most owners believe that this is the truth but did you know that there are a lot more reasons why a dog may wag its tail. Here we help you identify what your dog's tail wagging actually means.

Tails come in all shapes and size; long, short, straight, curly but all have one thing in common. Communication. Every dog uses their tail to say something, whether it's to you as an owner or to other dogs. Tail wagging should not be read in isolation and you should always be aware of your dog's whole body language eg the way they are standing or whether their hackles (the fur along the spine of your dog) are raised.

Depending on breed, tail wagging develops in puppyhood around about 3-4 weeks of age, depending on the breed of your dog.

Left or right wagging?

Apparently this is a 'thing'! If your dog is primarily wagging its tail to the left it generally indicates that your dog is anxious, stressed or fearful as the right side of the brain associated with negative emotions controls the left side of the body! So it stands to reason that tails that are generally wagging to the right usually means your dog is feeling happy and safe.

No Wag?

For most breeds, a non-wagging tail is your dog's natural position. This means that your dog's tail will be hanging down near the heels of their back paws.

Upright and wagging?

This can often be misread as your dog being happy, however this position means that your dog is excited and that your dog's behaviour may be unpredictable. Keep an eye on your dog when you see this tail shape.

Pointing backwards with a gentle wag?

Your dog is relaxed but may be unsure and curious to know what is going on. 

Twitching or non-twitching tail between legs?

This may mean that your dog is feeling scared and nervous and needs a little space and/or some calming words.

Big wag?

A big carefree tail wag is the best of all the wags and indicates a happy, fun-loving dog. 

As you can see there are many different ways to read your dog's tail. Tails are not only used for communication. They are important for dogs in many activities such as when running and keeping balance, or swimming and being used like a boat rudder!

So next time you take your dog out on a walk, spend some time reading their tail wag and get to know their individual tail wag signs!


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