“A Dog with a Wagging Tail is a Friendly Dog”


Terrier on lawn

Ellen Levy/Creative Commons

A dog is a master of communicating with body language. The ears. The arch of the body. The tail. The mouth. All clues to how a dog is feeling.

We always think that a wagging tail is a good thing but it’s not that simple. 

A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is happy or friendly. It depends on the angle of the tail. But really you can’t read only one part of a dog’s body to know what’s going on. You need to look at the ears, the mouth, and signs of any tension in the body. 

The tail is connected to the spine and so the emotions of the dog. Studies have shown that with happy emotions, the tails wag more to the right.  A happy tail wag is usually pretty obvious. The dog is loose and relaxed and often the whole butt is wagging with the tail. Creamy’s tail is like a propeller, going around in circles when she’s happy and excited. When the tail is low or tucked between the legs, it could mean the dog is not having a good time, fearful, submissive or just doesn’t want to be sniffed.  When a dog’s tail is curled tight over the body, especially with just the tip of the tail jerking back and forth, you should probably give this dog a wide berth. 

It’s easier to ready a dog’s mood when his tail is in its natural state. Dogs with docked tails and cropped ears don’t give clear communication signals. It’s been shown that such dogs seem to get into fights more often. I’m so happy that it’s now illegal to mutilate a dog’s body parts in many countries. I have seen dogs with such short tails that they are barely there.

It’s always a good idea to approach a new dog by asking for permission from the owner. This is a good thing to teach young kids. When petting an unfamiliar dog, it’s best not to move too quickly and come fast from above their head. It’s very unnerving and not all dogs like to be petted on the head.

When I meet new dogs with Blackspot and Creamy, I always watch everyone’s body language. Creamy’s bushy tail is just always waving. The other dogs just have to squint to avoid being hit in the eye! Like Blackspot has learned to do.





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