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Dog wagging tails and What it means

Updated by Amy Granger on Dec 3, 2021

Are you interested in why do dogs wag their tails and what does it means? I am here to discuss it in detail. So keep reading to the end to get a deep insight.

When dogs wag their tail, there are specific reasons behind this act. It is a way to convey their emotions such as being nervous, anxious, happy, feeling threatened, etc... Like newborn babies, dogs need to learn their language. When a puppy is born, he doesn't know what a wagging tail means. But as he grows up, he will learn the way to communicate with his mother and siblings.


Tail wagging is a natural behavior that depends on your dog's breed, normally builds up the way between 3 and 4 weeks after birth. This is their primary way of communicating with other dogs and humans (as owners). Although it is commonly believed that dogs sniff their tails to express their happiness, this may be due to different reasons such as excitement and nervousness. According to recent research, the speed and status of a dog's tail wag reflect their emotions. For instance, if a dog is scared or submissive, it will often hold its tail and probably hang a little stuck between its legs. Dogs that in a vigilant and passionate state will wag their tail higher than normal. Most of the time, a high-speed wagging tail often shows that a dog is cheerful or excited as they usually take a playful stance when they ask us to play chase or throw a ball. You will also meet your dog with a high-speed wagging tail when you come back home


As I mentioned above, dogs wag their tail to express their emotions. Below are some emotions you can tell from different dog's wagging tails.

1. Happiness

Research revealed that dogs hold their tail in a slightly raised or neutral position and put in a healthy wag when they are happy. In addition, a dog wagging a tail in circles illustrates its happiness or excitement.

2. Aggression

When a tail shifts from a slightly raised position to a vertical or backward arch, it reflects that the dog may be aggressive or anxious. The higher the tail, the more significant risk may take. From this prominent position of the tail, the dog's scent also emanates from the anal glands, which declare the appearance of the aggressive dog and blot its area.

3. On Guard:

When dogs become alert and passionate, they raise their ears, tails and breath fast. These actions indicate that they are watching and ready to compete with anything that gets their attention.

4. Curiosity:

Dogs also feel curious. When they are curious about something, they keep their tails straight in a horizontal position.

5. Negotiation

When your dog suddenly stops hanging its tail and freezes, it may mean that it wants to remove any danger without aggression. Many dogs do this when strangers talk to them.

6. Safe

When a dog's tail changes from its natural position to a lower one, the dog is submissive and not feeling in danger.

7. Afraid

If the tail is stuck firmly between the hind legs, the dog is scared or feels unsecured.

Different direction of your dog's wagging tails also shows various meanings. If the tail is bent to the right, the circumstance is usually positive. However, if it goes to the opposite left side, it means negative and may represent fear, anxiety, or stress. The main part to control a dog's tail position is its left hemisphere of the brain. A study used to monitored 43 pet dogs of different breeds for wagging tails shows. When dogs rotating tails to the right, most of them present in comfortable status, with standard heart rate. Some dogs even try to approach the dog on the screen, representing this as a positive signal. On the contrary, dogs wag their tail to the left side, show anxiety and heart palpitations.

Why do dogs wave their tails when you speak to them?

When you talk to a dog, they wag their tail in a specific direction to show their emotions, like they are feeling happy, nervous, worried, or submissive.

Why do dogs wag their tails while sleeping?

Tail wagging during sleep reflects that they are getting good and deep sleep. In addition, twitching and soft barks are also signs of your dog sleeps well.

Why do dogs stop wagging their tails when you pet them?

They stop wagging because it is a sign of agitation and excitement. Because when a dog is expecting something gets excited and goes there.

How important is the tail to the dog?

The tail is essential for dogs, as it keeps their body balance by placing their tail in the opposite direction. Dogs use their tails to balance their bodies in rough places such as rocks or trees.

Dogs wag tails to show different meanings and emotions. To know your dog's feelings, you should take precious attention to their wagging tails. Now you know why they always wagging tails when you arrived home or go out for a walk! Read this article above to know more secrets behind a dog's wagging tail.

Amy Granger
Amy is an editor from iPetor, owns a 4-year experience in writing tips and tutorial for users. As a pet owner, she will share more pets care methods and recommend more useful products for all pet owners.
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