9 different meanings of your dog's wagging tail
Tail wags can stand for a variety of moods, from excitement to curiosity and insecurities. Most people associate a wagging tail with a happy dog, however it can reveal much more about their emotions.
"Dogs may not be able to talk, but if we listen, or rather, watch, we learn a lot about what they are trying to communicate to us and to each other," Dr Ciara Clarke, in-house vet at Butternut Box, says.
"Tail position can indicate a number of things from agitation, negotiation, aggression and insecurity to friendliness, excitement, happiness and curiosity. Even the direction your dog's tail is wagging in can be significant. For example, studies reveal that dogs wag their tails to the right when they are happy or confident and to the left when they are frightened."
9 secrets your dog's tail is trying to tell you
Take a look at what your dog may be trying to tell you...
1. Preparedness/Agitation: When dogs are alert, they stand with their ears up and tails raised.
2. Negotiation: When a dog suddenly stops wagging their tail and freeze, it may mean they want to divert a threat without being aggressive.
3. Aggression: If your dog may be feeling aggressive, you will notice their tail moving from a neutral position to a vertical one. The higher the tail, the greater the threat. Ciara says: "The high position releases more of the dog's scent from the anal glands - marking their territory. This can be a sign of a dog being an active threat. Remember that a person can get bitten by a dog that is wagging its tail!"
4. Submission: If your dog's tail is horizontal or low, your pet is in a neutral to submissive mode and will usually be good-natured. If the tail is tucked tightly between the rear legs, they are feeling scared.
5. Curiosity: Wondering if your furry friend is feeling curious? When a dog is curious about something, they will hold their tail straight out in a horizontal position.
6. Happiness: When a dog is happy, their tail is neutral or slightly raised and will wag healthily. They will hold their tail higher than the natural position. You may also notice the wag being more fast-paced.
7. Excitement: Dogs often wag their tails quickly to express a state of energetic enthusiasm. "The faster a dog's tail wags, the more excited they are," explains Ciara. "Sometimes a dog's tail can wag so fast it appears to vibrate. A tail wag can range from very slow to extremely rapid (known as flagging)."
8. Insecurity: Although dogs feel and process emotion differently to humans, it is possible that they can deal with insecurities. "A dog that is tentative about meeting a new person or another dog may wag their tail ever so slightly to indicate that they are insecure."
9. Friendliness: "A dog that is very friendly may wag their tail more freely and even wiggle their hips at the same time."
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