Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tail?

Our dogs are our lives and we want nothing more than to make them as happy as possible. After all, they do the same for us!

As we shower them with treats, give them all of our love and take them for as many walks as they’ll manage, we’re constantly looking for a tell-tale sign that they’re appreciating us.

Aside from their continued commitment and loyalty, one of the most obvious signs of a dog’s contentment comes from their tail…

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So, Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

Tail wagging is a key indicator of a dog’s friendliness, with wagging tails a clear sign of a friendly dog – or, more accurately, a happy dog.

It’s important to say, at this point, that this should never be taken as a definite sign that the dog is safe to approach. Where strangers are concerned, any dog should be approached with caution at the advice of the owner.

Tail wagging, however, is strongly associated with pack behaviour and can be traced back to their origins as wolves.

Where Does Tail Wagging Come From?

When considering your dog’s behaviour, it’s important to remember that they’re mammals and are adapted to be social. Therefore, one of the biggest threats from them is the idea of living life alone.

To stay alive, it was vital for wolves to be on good terms with the rest of the pack. Territorial fights were the cause of up to 65% of wolf deaths in the US, so the developed response of wagging the tail helped dogs fit in and demonstrated to pack leaders that they were contented and not going to usurp the leader.

This way, they were guaranteed their place in the group.

What Signs Should I Look Out For?

The first sing to look out for is the degree at which the tail is held. An erect wagging tail – that is, one that’s held up in the air – shows that the dog is aroused and could be unpredictable. A tail held back and wagging gently shows that they’re curious, whilst a tail between the legs is a sign of nerves.

Speed is also something to consider. A fast wag is a sign of excitement, whilst a slow wag implies a ‘fight or flight’ response.

Finally, the direction of the wag can reveal a lot about the dog’s mood. A wag bent round to the right indicates positive feelings, whereas a left-leaning wag could be a sign of nerves.

We should also point out that some breeds have their own unique wags which indicate a whole range of things… confused yet?

What Does This All Mean?

Well, yes, tail movements can be a good indicator of how your dog’s feeling. But, it’s not the start and end of things…

Whilst this can be used to judge the temperament of dogs that you don’t necessarily know, for your own dog it’s best to stick with what you know. You know when they’re happy, and if they’re not they’re sure to tell you!

Don’t get too hung up on it – it’s part of their nature, but it’s just a part of the whole story…

Work full time and looking for regular pet care? Perhaps Tailster can help! We have a range of vetted carers across the UK, available to care for your pet as and when you require. For more information, click here.

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