Dogs are highly social animals that use different social cues to communicate. Dogs use the same language to communicate with people, such as tail wagging. Most dog owners know this, but only a few understand what different tail moves and positions mean.
We asked our experienced staff at The Grand Paw doggy daycare in Indio, CA, how they interpret tail wagging to understand how dogs are feeling. Here, we present our findings.
Interpreting Vertical Position
How high or low a dog holds its tail can tell a lot about its emotional state. Dogs always form a hierarchy in dog packs. When a new member encounters a dog they’ve never met, the two establish a hierarchy based on their judgment of each other’s physical strengths.
When a dog’s tail is at its maximum height, it’s a sign of confidence and dominance. On the other hand, when the tail is at its lowest position, it’s a sign of fear and submission. This is probably where the idiom “with one’s tail between one’s legs” came from.
Interpreting Wagging Frequency
A wagging tail may mean the dog is happy, but it may also be a sign of stress. The key is to note the frequency. A higher tail wagging frequency indicates that the dog is excited, relaxed, and happy. On the other hand, a slower wagging tail may mean that the dog is stressed and nervous. Our professionals instinctively know what “high” or “low” frequency means for different dog sizes and breeds.
Interpreting the Left/Right Bias
Most people never notice this, but dogs often wag their tails a little to the left or the right. More often than not, dogs wag their tail slightly to the right when they’re excited about something positive, like a reward. However, the tail wags with a little bias to the left when they feel threatened, like when meeting a stranger.
At The Grand Paw, we’re a doggy daycare and a pet resort in Indio, CA, well known for our luxury services for dogs. From our humble beginnings in 2003, we’ve grown to top the ratings of Spirit Magazine, Palm Springs Life, and Desert Magazine, becoming the best dog daycare in Indio, CA.
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