What Your Dog’s Tail is Trying to Tell You: Decoding Canine Body Language

Dogs communicate with their bodies as well as their vocalizations, and their tails are one of the most expressive parts of their anatomy. A dog’s tail can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. Here’s a guide to decoding canine body language through tail movements.

1. Tail Position

The position of a dog’s tail can indicate their level of confidence and arousal. A high tail indicates confidence and excitement, while a low tail indicates fear or submission. A tail that’s tucked between the legs indicates extreme fear or anxiety.

2. Tail Wagging

Contrary to popular belief, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is happy. The speed and direction of the wag can convey different meanings. A broad, slow wag with the tail at a mid-level indicates relaxation and contentment. A fast, stiff wag with the tail held high indicates arousal or aggression. A low, slow wag with the tail between the legs indicates fear or submission.

3. Tail Stiffness

The stiffness of a dog’s tail can also convey their level of arousal or aggression. A stiff, erect tail indicates high arousal or aggression, while a relaxed, wagging tail indicates a more peaceful state.

4. Tail Tucking

A dog that tucks its tail between its legs is indicating fear or submission. This is a sign that the dog is feeling vulnerable and may be trying to appease a perceived threat.

5. Tail Chasing

Tail chasing can be a sign of playfulness or anxiety. If your dog is chasing their tail and seems relaxed and happy, it’s likely a sign of playfulness. However, if your dog is obsessively chasing their tail and seems anxious or distressed, it’s important to address the underlying cause of the behavior.

6. Tail Raises

Raising their tail can be a sign of excitement, but it can also indicate tension or aggression. If your dog’s tail is raised and their body is stiff, it’s a sign that they’re feeling threatened or aggressive.

7. Tail Position During Play

During play, a dog’s tail is typically held high and wagging. This indicates excitement and enjoyment. However, if the tail drops or becomes stiff during play, it can be a sign that the dog is feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

8. Tail Position Around Other Dogs

When interacting with other dogs, a dog’s tail can indicate their intentions and level of confidence. A dog with a high, stiff tail is likely feeling dominant or aggressive, while a dog with a low, tucked tail is feeling submissive or fearful.

9. Tail Signals When Greeting

When greeting another dog or human, a dog’s tail can indicate their level of excitement and friendliness. A dog with a high, wagging tail is likely feeling happy and friendly, while a dog with a low, tucked tail may be feeling fearful or unsure.

10. Tail Language and Breeds

It’s important to note that tail language can vary between dog breeds. Some breeds have naturally docked tails, while others have long, flowing tails. The shape and position of a dog’s tail can affect the way they communicate with their bodies.


Understanding your dog’s body language can help you communicate better with them and improve your relationship. Pay attention to their tail movements, as they can tell you

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