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Why do Dogs Wag their Tails?


When Dogs wag their tails, many people take this as a sign of friendliness and warmness, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, tail wagging can be for a lot of other reasons as well. Tail wagging can be seen as a language for dogs that they use to converse with their owners, family members, strangers, and other dogs. Apart from Tail, a dog's facial expressions, ear movements, body position and postures et cetera, all can be seen as communication devices that a canine uses to express his/her feelings. But, here in this article, we are only going to be discussing the different meanings that one can interpret from a wagging tail of a canine.

Generally, if a dog is wagging his tail from one side to the other in a spirited manner, it means that a dog is friendly or he is greeting you or he likes you or he is willing to interact with you. This is usually accompanied by swift movements of the body, a few licks and a little bit of jumping. But apart from happiness, there are a lot of other reasons for which a dog is known to wag his tail. And apart from wagging, there are a lot of characteristics that one should look out for if he/she wants to properly decipher the “Tail” language of a dog. These characteristics can be tail height, speed, stiffness et cetera.


  • If a dog's tail is at the highest point (close to 90 degrees) or is above his back, then it usually implies that the canine is confident and alert and if he is wagging his tail in this position, then it generally means he is excited and enthusiastic.
  • If the tail of the dog is at a very low position or it is tucked between his legs, then it generally means that the pooch is fearful, anxious, nervous or in submission. Dogs tend to cover their genitals with their tails whenever they are not very confident and they are a bit nervous about something.
  • If the canine's tail is fairly loose while wagging, then it also means that he is being friendly. But a stiff or tight tail can sometimes mean that the dog is tensed and may not act very lovingly or warmly.
  • Also, if a pooch is wagging its tail at a fast rate, then it again can be seen as a sign of warmth and love. A slow tail wag usually implies uncertainty on a dog's part or a canine may be feeling insecure about something.
  • Even the direction in which a dog is wagging his tail can also be taken as a sign so as to judge his mood. This is according to a study that was published in an issue of "Current Biology", if a dog is wagging his tail more to the right side, then chances are that the dog is fairly friendly and relaxed but if his tail is pointing more towards the left side of his body, then it can mean that he is a bit stressed or anxious.
  • It can become a lot harder to read the mood of a canine through his tail if he has a curled up or spirally tail like a pug or Malamute. So to read their feelings and emotions, one can look out for some other signs such as their body postures and expressions on their faces. Deciphering the language of Tail wagging is impossible in tail-less canines and only the other means of communication are available in those dogs.

Now you know, tail wagging in dogs doesn't always mean that the canine is happy or excited, one should also look out for various other things while a canine is wagging his tail so as to properly understand his true feelings. Apart from happiness; nervousness, sadness, fear, uncertainty, curiosity, aggression, all these feelings and emotions are communicated through the Tail of a dog.