Why your dog
wags its tail
Veterinary & Aquatic Services
Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Because the dog's ancestors were pack animals, they needed to develop a
way to communicate with each other. They use many different types of body
postures and vocalizations as a type of language. The tail is extremely
expressive and an important part of the body posture.
A friendly dog will communicate his intentions through loosely wagging
his tail. But, a wagging tail does not always indicate friendliness.
Dominant or aggressive dogs may wag their tail, but the tail is held high
and maybe just the tip of the tail is moving rapidly. A playful dog will
also hold his tail high, but it will be wagging greatly from side to side. A
dog who holds his tail low and wags it stiffly may be indicating he is
submissive or afraid.
The tail is just one part of the dog, also look at his body, head
position, ears, eyes, and hackles to help you understand what the dog may be
trying to express.
© 2004 Drs.
Foster and Smith, Inc.
Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from
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