One of the many common misconceptions regarding dog communication is that all tail wagging can be associated with happiness. Most dogs provide a variety of visual cues using their tail that can advise us as to how he or she may be feeling.
We often see a range of movements, only a few of which actually means this family member is happy. Each tail position is intended to convey a specific mood or feeling that we should consider before interacting with the dog. We love to see big, energetic “helicopter” tail wagging, which tells us your friend is excited and happy. Then there is upright, stiff, and rapid tail movement, which may involve only the tip of the tail, which usually indicates anxiety and even aggression. You can also see the tail down really low, possibly even completely tucked up underneath, which says the dog is scared and uncomfortable in the current situation.
I have found a short video I like by Veterinarian Dr. Pete Wedderburn in the UK that gives an overview of what different types of tail wagging usually mean. It also includes a bit of information about how dogs are communicating to each other using tail wagging https://youtu.be/jJyV3Yt7bbQ.
We all wants what’s best for our fur babies and taking the time to read and understand their unique tail wagging communication is a fantastic way to keep them, yourself, your family, your friends, as well as other dogs safe and happy!!
-written by Madeline Smith