A 'Waggy Tail' Isn't Always a 'Happy Tail'

A dog will wag its tail for many reasons to communicate how a dog is feeling. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that a waggy tail means that the dog is happy.



When people have had an incident with a dog they often don't understand it, and usually, that is because the dog wagged its tail.


Let's look at some of the reasons why a dog may wag its tail:


  • To distribute or cut off their scent

  • To make themselves appear bigger

Dogs will wag their tails to show various emotions too, such as:

  • Nervous

  • Excited

  • Aroused

  • Scared

  • Aggressive

  • Fearful

  • Relaxed

  • Curious

  • Over-aroused

  • Happy


A dog really can wag their tail if they do not like something or someone!


For a ‘Happy Tail’ you want to see the wag go through the dog's body. The dogs bum and hips will wag with it.


When looking at the tail look at the positioning of the tail, the speed of the wag & the fluidity of the wag.

The more fluid and floppy the tail is, the less tension and stress the dog is holding compared to a stiff wag.


Don’t forget to check out the rest of the dog's body language when assessing what a dog is communicating.

Look at the dog's posture, ears, mouth, eyes & facial expressions to help understand what the dog is ‘saying’.


Written by Leanne McWade


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