Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

dog in the sun

A dog trait that we are all familiar with, (perhaps because it is universally adored by pet owners), is the wagging tail. While we know that this is a sign of contentment, happiness and joy, is it always the case or can a wagging tail mean other things? Did you know that a wagging tail can also signify anxiety, nerves, submission and excitement? Read on to discover everything you need to know about why dogs wag their tails.


Do dogs wag their tails on purpose?

So, what does it mean when a dog wags its tail? As we have discussed, dogs use their tail as an avid communication method but is tail wagging involuntary or do dogs wag their tails on purpose? Dogs move their tails instinctively and purposefully. This is how they react to the environment around them and how they communicate with other dogs. You may notice that your dog swishes its tail from side to side when investigating a new scent for example. A slow wag shows your dog is hesitant and this is also a show of dominance. Always be wary around a dog tail wagging at a slow speed.


Why does my dog wag their tail when they look at me?

You can understand the emotion behind a wagging tail by analysing the pace and positioning of the tail. It is also important to note that different breeds of dogs will have tails that naturally sit higher or lower. A low tail is telling you your dog is feeling threatened or submissive, even if it is wagging whereas a high tail shows your dog is content and relaxed. If the rest of your dog’s body language is telling you your pet is happy, a viciously wagging tail means your dog is excited to see you and the faster it wags, the more excited your dog is.


Why do dogs wag tails when lying down?

Interpreting a wagging tail is more complex than you might think but does what your dog is doing at the time make the meaning clearer? For example, could the meaning be different depending on whether your dog is standing, sitting or lying down. Ultimately, it is the pace and direction of a tail movement that is the key to deciphering the emotion rather than the posture. But always take their body language into account as this can give you clues. For example, if your dog is wagging its tail lying down with its mouth open and bright eyed, it is a positive sign. However, if your dog is lying down with his head turned away and his tail slowly wagging, give your pet some space.

If your dog’s tail is alerting you to a matter of concern, a visit to the vet can often put your mind at ease.

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