Expert Q&A

I know some basics when it comes to reading my dog’s tail-wagging “language,” but I’d like to better decipher what he is telling me. Please shed some light on this puzzling form of communication.

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

Reading your dog’s body language can inform you of its emotional state. Think of it as sign language for dogs, since they use it with each other to detect important information before possible encounters.

In their book Dog Lover’s Daily Companion, Wendy Nan Rees and Kristen Hampshire provide translations for common tail movements.

  • Tail up and wagging: happy, positive
  • Tail up and wagging quickly: anticipation, excitement
  • Tail straight out (horizontal) and wagging: steady, caution, worry
  • Tail relaxed, slight wag: contentment, ease, life is good
  • Tail up, quivering: nervous but friendly
  • Tail sweeping broadly: pre-attack anticipation, nervousness
  • Tail tucked between legs: submission, fear, anxiety

As you can see, some of the differences in movement are rather subtle. For example, there’s a fine visual line between a happy dog and one that is nervous. Take the time to read through the list so that you will be able to decipher your dog’s tail-wags the next time you see your pet. The info also helps when encountering a strange dog.

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Tags: dog behavior

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