The Truth About Tail Wagging

Friday, June 24, 2022 12:03:05 PM America/Los_Angeles

It's a common belief that a dog’s wagging tail signals happiness or excitement. But is there more to this well-known canine gesture? Experts have discovered that tail wagging can mean a lot more than just contentedness. While wagging tails can convey positive emotions, they also tell us so much more about what dogs are feeling! 

Photo by Hermes Rivera

Mixed Signals

Tail wagging has been found to demonstrate a wide range of meanings. The meaning of wags can change depending on speed, movements, and who it’s intended for. It’s better to think of tail wagging as an expression of emotion–it’s used to display a variety of feelings that can be positive, negative, or neutral. 

When directed towards humans, wagging can indeed mean your fur baby is happy or content. However, they may also be using their tail to grab your attention. Dogs have learned that we respond to tail wagging and they may use their tails to tell us that they want to play or use the dog bathroom

The same goes for wagging intended as communication with other canines. Studies have shown that dogs may shift the direction and intensity of their wag depending on how they feel about an encounter. As much as enthusiastic wagging indicates excitement for humans, they can also show the same feelings toward a dog friend. Likewise, a lowered wagging tail can signal submission to both a human or another canine. 

Different Types of Wags

Certain wags can be seen as friendly gestures:

  • Full body wag
  • Circular wag
  • Relaxed tail while wagging 
  • Wide, sweeping arc made with tail while wagging

Other wags might signal apprehension:

  • Slow wag with rigid tail 
  • Wagging just the tip of the tail 
  • Limited movement made with tail while wagging (a bit like twitching)

Understanding what our furry ones are communicating with their tails not only helps us know what they’re thinking, it also lets our dogs know that we’re paying attention and respecting their experiences and emotions. 

Think your pup’s tail wags might be telling you something about their pet potty needs and desires? Try a real bark pee pad like Bark Potty. Subscribe today to give your pooch something to wag about!