Rachel
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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Health Learn About Dogs

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel
Sep 3 ·

Much like other things dogs do, such as tilting their heads, they wag their tails a lot. But why do dogs wag their tails? In fact, why do they even have tails? The short answer is that it’s a form of communication. Dogs wagging their tails is different body language used by them to convey a message. So let’s take a look at all the things dogs can say with their tails.

why do dogs wag their tails

Why do dogs have tails?

Before we get into the body language, why do dogs have tails in the first place? Aside from communication, tails are used to help keep your dog balanced. For example, when your dog is running or turning, the tail is there to help them stabilize their body to keep running and remain upright. Also, it helps them swim, acting as a rudder.

We don’t know whether or not tails were originally used to help dogs move around or if it was for communication first. Then, as dogs evolved, did they begin using it as a communication method? We’ll never know, but wagging their tails is a form of body language when dogs try to communicate with other dogs and us.

How do dogs use their tails to communicate?

Tails are functional in many ways. For example, dogs use them to communicate depending on a few factors.

  • The tails’ height
  • How fast the tail wags
  • Its stiffness

For example, if your furry friend has their tail high and it’s wagging, then that’s a sign they are happy or excited. If the tail is held high, then your pooch is confident. On the other hand, if the tail is low, your doggo may be scared or shy. If the tail is between its legs, then it’s most likely nervous or timid.

On the other hand, if your dog has a high tail, that doesn’t always mean they’re friendly or approachable. Sometimes you might notice the tip wagging ever so slightly, but their tail is held high. This often means your doggo hears something that may be a threat, and they’re on alert.

why do dogs wag their tails

In addition, if your dog’s tail is stiff without wagging, then chances are they are in defensive mode. The dog might be hostile and is ready to defend themselves or something else. Yet, if their tail is loose with a little wagging, it could mean they’re relaxed and completely approachable.

Finally, the speed of your dog’s wagging tail matters. For instance, if it’s wagging super fast, then your pooch is probably happy and can’t contain its excitement. This often happens when you come home from work after a long day, and your furry friend is happy to see you again.

When its tail is wagging slowly, depending on the situation, it could be unsure or confused. For example, if you’re taking a walk and meet an old friend on the street that your pooch hasn’t met, they may wag their tail slow. This is because they see that you recognize the person, but they don’t yet know if this is a person they can trust.

What if dogs don’t have tails, or their tails are docked?

These pups can still communicate, wagging their tails, even if it’s just a stub. However, they’re just a little more limited in the ways they communicate. As a result, these doggos might be hesitant to meet new dogs in fear of miscommunication.

The difference between left and right

According to a study conducted in 2013, researchers believe there are different meanings to whether your dog wags their tail to the left or the right. For example, if they wag their tail to the left a lot, it could mean they are alert, stressed, or anxious. On the other hand, if they wag their tail to the right side a lot, chances are they are more relaxed.

Why do dogs use their tails to communicate?

Humans speak to communication. Dogs bark for other reasons. Body language is the biggest way they communicate with one another. Your canine’s vision can see movement easier, making tail wagging a perfect form of communication. It also helps if the dog’s tail has vivid colors or is bushy with fur.

why do dogs wag their tails

Your dog’s tail says a lot

There are many reasons as to why your dog is wagging its tail. Depending on its height, speed, and stiffness, you can tell a lot about your dog’s mood and emotions. All you need to do is pay attention so you and your pooch can communicate better together. Why do dogs wag their tails? It’s complicated!

Similar reading: learn more about your dog’s body language

Rachel Poli Author
WRITTEN BY
Rachel
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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