Although recent studies have proven that tail wagging does not solely transmit a dog’s happiness, we frequently mistake a “wagging tail” for an indication of our pets’ enjoyment. Dogs utilize their tails as a means of communication to convey their feelings to humans, their owners, and other animals. Veterinarians have long suspected that wagging isn’t always a sign of contentment; frequently, when a dog is visibly scared or protective, their tails will be wagging. This is frequently misunderstood, which puts owners and veterinary professionals in a very perilous scenario.
Why do dogs wag their tails?
Dogs will wag their tails to express a variety of emotions, including happiness, anxiety, fear, submission, and excitement.
It is believed that a dog’s tail would sit in a resting position when it is at ease. The posture will change based on the dog’s breed. Some dogs’ tails are naturally curling and stiff-looking, while others may have a long tail that hangs loosely behind them. Tail wagging then happens when emotions are generated.
According to studies, the wag will frequently transmit emotion through its pace and posture.
A dog will frequently hold its tail down and may even wag it slightly between its legs if it is scared or submissive. This picture of a dog getting yelled at by his owner is one we’ve all seen—he looks so sorry and guilty!
When a dog is attentive or excited, their tail will be held higher than usual. A dog’s high tail will frequently be wagging rapidly; this indicates that the animal is usually happy or excited. Once more, we frequently witness this while playing with our dogs or in the park. They frequently urge us to throw a ball for them or play chase while adopting a playful stance with their bottom raised and a high tail waving. This behavior is also displayed when we come home to our dogs after being gone for a while—their it’s way of saying they missed us and are happy to see us!
A dog that is curious and interested in its surroundings will frequently hold its tail straight out.
Recent studies show that a dog’s tail orientation can convey complicated emotions to other dogs. It has been demonstrated that dogs communicate good sentiments to one another by wagging their tails slightly to the right by observing the behavior of “observer dogs” who were watching another person wag its tail. On the other hand, if a dog wags significantly to the left, more negative emotions are being felt.
If observer dogs saw pictures or silhouettes of dogs with their tails moving slightly to the right, they were shown to have a slower heartbeat and assume a more relaxed posture. The observation dogs’ heart rates would rise and they would take on a more defensive stance if they saw a dog waving its tail slightly to the left. When they noticed a dog wagging more to the left, several of the watchdog dogs were even seen to have their hair stand on edge!
The left half of the brain governs good emotions, whereas the right side controls negative emotions, according to research on various species, including humans. Strangely, the right side of the brain governs the left side of the body and vice versa in all species. As a result, it is believed that the hypothesis that the wags to the left and right communicate emotion has to do with the brain’s “hard wiring,” with the various sides controlling various emotional reactions.
Tails aren’t just for communication…
It’s important to keep in mind that dogs don’t just communicate with their tails. It frequently serves as a balance and stability help. Slow-motion footage of a dog making a sharp turn typically reveals how it employs its tail for stability. If the dog is swimming in water, it also functions as a rudder. It’s intriguing to speculate if these applications came first, or whether the function of a dog’s tail as a communication tool evolved first.
The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that a dog’s waggy tail doesn’t always indicate that it’s happy or friendly. Simply said, a dog engaged with its environment is demonstrated by a wagging tail. Before caressing a dog, it’s important to talk to its owner because sometimes a tail wag can be misinterpreted and result in a violent bite. Children are frequently the targets of such misunderstandings, therefore it’s imperative that we all take care to ensure that they are aware that they must only touch a dog if they have been given permission to do so.
When happy, do dogs wag their tails?
Is your dog indicating his happiness by wagging his tail? No, not always! Canines are familiar with a variety of “tail wags,” all of which have various connotations. In fact, one of the finest ways to communicate among dogs is to wag their tails.
Dogs must learn their language much like infant humans do. Like a newborn baby doesn’t understand words, puppies don’t come into the world knowing what a wagging tail signifies. However, a pup picks up the language when he is around a month old when he realizes how important communication with his mother and siblings is. When a puppy is hungry or is done playing with his littermates, he will wag his tail to signal his mother.
Why do dogs wag their tails to communicate?
People are good listeners because human communication is based on words. On the other hand, dogs are observers. Because they lack a spoken vocabulary, dogs use body language to convey more complex meanings. They may adopt a particular stance, move their ears, wrinkle their brows, shift their eyes, or wag their tails.
For dogs, tail wagging is effective. Dogs are able to distinguish between distinct tail wags because their vision is oriented more to movement than to colors or details. The evolution of more noticeable tails has also been beneficial. Some tails differ in color, having black or pale ends, lighter undersides, and some that are incredibly bushy. These characteristics all emphasize the tail wag and improve communication.
What messages does a wagging tail communicate?
Before we can mention “tail, we must understand that each breed of dog has a different neutral or natural position for their tail. When calm, the majority of dogs’ tails drop down around their heels. Some canines, such as Beagles, however, hold their tails more vertically. Others curl their tails beneath their stomachs, like Greyhounds and Whippets. Others have tails that coil firmly against the body and never wag, like Pugs and Boston Terriers.
The tail’s position may reveal:
- excitement or readiness. Dogs stand alertly with their tails up and ears perked up. They appear to be watching and prepared to engage whatever has their attention in this position.
- Negotiation. A dog may be trying to deflect a threat without becoming hostile if his tail stops wagging and he freezes. When strangers pet their dogs, many dogs will do this to let the person know that they don’t want to interact with them.
- Aggression. A dog may be aggressive if its tail shifts from a neutral to a vertical position or arches over the back. The threat increases as the tail heightens. Additionally, the aggressive dog’s elevated tail position causes his anal glands to produce more scent, signaling his approach and delineating his territorial boundaries.
- The dog is docile and not a threat when its tail drops from its neutral position to a lower one. The dog is afraid if its tail is tucked securely between its back legs. He feels threatened and is pleading for protection. The dog can blend in or go unnoticed thanks to its lower tail position, which lessens the amount of scent released by the anal glands.
- Curiosity. A dog holds her tails horizontally out straight when she is inquisitive about something.
- Happiness. A pleased dog will wag his tail and hold it in a neutral or slightly elevated position.
Wagging frequency could mean:
- Excitement. The more the dog wags, the happier it is. A tail wag might be extremely sluggish or extremely quick (known as flagging). The dog’s tail occasionally wags so quickly that it seems to vibrate.
- Insecurity. When a dog is uneasy about meeting someone new or another dog, he may wag his tail just slightly to show his unease.
- Friendliness. A friendly dog may wag his tail more freely and perhaps move his hips simultaneously.
- Aggression. A dog may be an active threat if he wags his tail quickly and vertically. Bear in mind that even a dog with its tail waving can bite someone!
Dog “tail communication” is so intricate that even the wagging’s direction matters. According to studies, dogs’ tails wag to the right when they are joyful or self-assured and to the left when they are afraid. Oddly enough, there is a scientific explanation for this.
Movement on the right side of the body is controlled by the left side of the brain, and vice versa. As a result, when the tail wags to the right, the left brain is active, and when it moves to the left, the right brain is active. A content dog will wag his tail to the right since the left half of the brain is connected to pleasant emotions like love and tranquility. A fearful dog will wag his tail to the left since the right part of the brain is connected to negative emotions like fear and despair.
Can tailless dogs communicate?
Although they have limits, dogs without tails can communicate. To prevent misunderstandings, they would approach other canines or people warily. To convey their intentions, they rely on other facets of body language, such as ear position, facial expression, and stance.
Why do joyful dogs wag their tails?
Dogs frequently wag their tails to convey an animated eagerness. In a 2018 study, scientists discovered: “Dogs will loosely wag their tails from side to side to show friendliness or excitement.
Further studies have confirmed the link between tail wagging and affectionate canine social behavior.
In a 2013 study, dogs who achieved success displayed excitement by wagging their tails. These findings, according to the researchers, “Dogs’ tails wagging can be a helpful sign of happy emotions.
In contrast, a 1989 study indicated that following a time of little social contact, dogs wagged their tails more. This study was published in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. This could be the reason why dogs wag their tails so much after an extended absence from their owner.
Dogs can move their tails for a variety of reasons, including to express alertness, nervousness, or other emotions. Research is still needed to be sure, but some studies even contend that a dog’s tail wag may reflect its personality.
How do you know if a dog is content?
A pleased dog’s body language is probably the simplest to interpret in dogs. There are a few very obvious indications that your dog is content:
- a long, wagging tail. This is likely the most well-known indication that your dog is content.
- slack ears. This means that their ears are not tight or pressed flat against their head, but rather are relaxed. An indication of attention are perked erect ears. they just tell you whether your dog is focused and happy or depressed.
- Their body is at ease. It’s a positive sign that your dog is feeling well if their posture is relaxed and not strained or stiff. There are several signs that your dog is really relaxed, including loose shoulders, soft eyes without a fixed focus, and a touch of “wiggliness” or total “flopped-outness.”
- They are amusing. A content dog will probably want to play and leap about more. Play “bows are a terrific indication of your dog’s mood.
- They get closer to you. A content dog who appreciates your company will probably also appreciate your attention. They might come to you for attention, and if they lean towards your hand when you stroke them, that’s a positive sign.