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Why do dogs wag their tail?

If you have watched your dog for even a short amount of time, you will have definitely seen them wagging their tail. From a gentle wave to whipping back and forth so fast it looks like a blur, wagging is one behaviour that all owners should expect from their dog. But why do dogs wag their tail? Let’s find out.

Different types of tail wag

Wouldn’t it be great if dogs could talk? Unfortunately, our dogs don’t have the ability to tell us how they are feeling so instead, they use body language. Body language is the movements that we make and the expressions we use which tell other people around us how we feel – for example, smiling when we are happy or lowering our head when we feel sad. Your dog’s tail is one of the most obvious parts of their body they can use to show us their emotions. Although all dogs are different, generally:

  • A relaxed, flowing tail belongs to a relaxed, happy dog.

  • A stiff tail belongs to a dog that is anxious, stressed or tense.

  • A high mid-level to high tail shows that your dog feels confident in their environment.

  • A low or tucked tail shows that your dog is nervous and feels uncomfortable with one or more things in their current situation. This could be where they are, who they are with or what is happening around them.

  • The faster your dog wags their tail, the more excited they are.

Other behaviour clues

Dogs will wag their tail for lots of different reasons and emotions. This means that to understand how they are feeling, you will need to look for other clues too. These include things like:

  • Is your dog making any noise while they are wagging their tail? This could be barking, whining, howling, growling or something else.

  • Is your dog making eye contact with you?

  • Is your dog baring their teeth?

  • How are your dog’s ears? Are they prickled up or flattened against their head?

By looking at other signals in their behaviour, we can better understand how our dog may be feeling at that moment.


Every dog is different

It’s also important to be aware that the natural position of your dog’s tail will also be different depending on their breed. For example, some breeds like Huskies have tails that curve backwards, while others like Labradors have large, very expressive tails. By watching your dog’s behaviour, you will get to know what their different tail positions and movements mean. This will make it easier for you to understand how your dog is feeling and for you to be a fantastic owner.


If you want to find out more about why dogs wag their tails, check out this awesome video from Animal Planet. And for more interesting facts about dogs and how to be a caring and responsible dog owner, sign up to the Zara Dog Dog Club today!


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