Why Dogs Wag Their Tails

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Have you ever wondered what a dog’s tail is for? It wags all the time. It looks like frantic windshield wipers when you enter the room. It moves slowly back and forth when the animal is watching a squirrel. It drops down between his legs when you scold your pet. Whether your dog has a long tail or a short nub, he will try to wiggle it. Dogs use their tails to communicate. Wagging is like Morse code for canines. Learn what those puppy tail wags mean.

What Is Tail For?

According to VCA, the tail is part of the dog’s spine. It’s made of muscles and vertebrae that allow it to move. The tail isn’t just an afterthought; it’s an important part of your dog. It even contains nerves that help the animal control its bowels.

Your dog uses its tail for other physical functions. The appendage helps the dog balance. As your dog rolls from its belly to its side, the tip of the tail might point upwards. This helps him move gracefully, without flopping over.

Have you ever noticed that dogs known for being fast runners have long, thin tails? They use them as a counterbalance to prevent them from falling over when they’re negotiating obstacles. Swimming dogs have thick, strong tails that help them steer in the water. Dogs that are native to cold climates have bushy tails that they use to protect their faces from the weather while they sleep, according to Canidae. Cold-weather dogs’ tails are curled, a feature that makes it easier for them to snuggle into them when they’re chilly.

Some dogs, like the Australian Shepherd, Brittany spaniel, and Corgi, don’t have tails at all. In most cases, their tails have been bred out of them for various reasons. Farm dogs were often preferred to have shorter tails to prevent accidents with machinery. Certain types of terriers were sent into holes to hunt rodents, and their owners had to pull them out by their shorter tails. Many tail-less dogs have a gene mutation, however.

 

Speaking In Tails

One of the best-recognized functions of the tail is communication. The extension of the spine is part of the dog’s body language. The extremity is often colored differently than the rest of the body. It might have a white tip or colored splashes. This helps other dogs notice it.

Some positions and movements mean the same thing across the board. For example, a tail that’s held high and moves back and forth generally indicates happiness, but it could signal dominance. A faster moving tail shows that your dog is excited. If a canine is interested in something, it will usually hold its tail straight and parallel to the ground. A scared dog will hide its tail. A dog may wag its tail tentatively when it’s greeting a new animal or person.

If you watch your dog’s tail, you can get a sense of the way your pet personalizes its language. Some dogs naturally hold their tails lower than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those canines are fearful, though. It could be particular to the breed or just Fido’s preference. What does it mean when your animal’s tail winds around in a circular motion? She may be feeling so happy and excited that her tail is just going crazy.

Spreading Their Scent

Dogs also use their tails like a fan to distribute their scent. Glands in the anus release an odor that serves as your dog’s fingerprint. That’s one of the reasons that dominant dogs hold their tails high. They want everyone else to know that they’re in the area. Scared dogs cover their anal glands with their tails to prevent other animals from smelling them.

Do Other Animals Wag Their Tails?

Wolves wag their tails for the same reasons as dogs. Even cats move their tails around to show their emotions. Scared cats will tuck their tails between their legs just like dogs. Elephants, cows, and elephants use their tails as fly swatters. The hippopotamus beats out the dog in the spreading-its-scent department. When it has a bowel movement, it circles its tail like a propeller to spread the feces as far as possible.

Pigs are known for wagging their tails when they’re happy. Some people say that goats do too. Peacocks don’t wag their tails, but they spread open their beautiful feathers to attract mates. No two peacock tails are alike.

 

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Does A Wagging Tail Mean That Your Dog Is Happy?

Some people think that dog tail wagging automatically signals that your dog is happy. That’s not necessarily true. A vertical tail can mean that the dog is trying to show dominance or threaten you. If your dog’s tail is vibrating, he’s probably telling you that he’s ready to take action. He may be going into fight-or-flight mode.

The direction to which your dog’s tail moves is important. This Washington Post article explains that different brain hemispheres may be activated when your dog wags its tail to the right versus to the left. When the tail veers to the right, the left hemisphere is working. This side of the brain is responsible for happy, relaxed emotions. When the dog’s tail goes to the left, the right hemisphere is activated. This part of the brain governs negative and withdrawal emotions.

Other dogs can read this “lingo.” One study showed that when dogs watched canines wagging their tails to the right, they were also relaxed. Their hearts started beating faster when they saw dogs wagging their tails to the left. In what direction does your pet wag its tail?

Your Dog’s Tail Wags For You

Psychology Today says that dogs only wag their tails when another animal or human is around. Just like people don’t talk to themselves very often, dogs don’t wag their tails very much when they’re alone. Your pet is waiting for you to walk through the room so that he can tell you about his day. You can respond by scratching him behind the ears or rubbing his belly.

 

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