Tail Wagging – Happy?

I am actually writing a article to be published on this very topic.

A wagging tail can be most complicated in its meanings. Dog behavior is complex and signals that dogs send are often very subtle. A dog’s tail can tell us many things about their feelings. The dogs’ tail is an important method of communication and in combination with their other body language signals; are cues to help tell what our animal(s) are trying to say to us. Most people believe that a wagging tail means a happy dog.

Confidence/Fear/Dominance/Submission/Play and Play Invitations/Aggression/Relaxed/Alert/Excitement/Anticipation/Insecurity are all possible 'emotions' with a wagging tail.

A dog's tail is just one tool that the dog uses for communicatino. The dog also uses vocalization, scents and other aspects of body language such as eye and ear movements, pupil dilation and general body positions. Therefore, the dog ha to be taken as a whole to best determine what they are saying instead of just focusing on the tail position and/or level of wagging being done.

Wagging also spreads pheromones which are hormones produced in glands near the anus of the dog. The pheromones can be detected by other dogs and enable them to determine each other's sex and social status. It serves as another aspect of canine communication.

Tail language actually has three different channels of information: position, shape and movement. Movement is a very key and important aspect of the signal; since dog's eyes are much more sensitive to movement than they are to details or colours. This makes a waving or wagging tail quite visible to other dogs.

A new workship that I am adding to my programs this fall shall be on 'WHAT IS YOUR DOG TRYING TO TELL YOU' – Reading Body Language.

We also have to be very careful about not 'humanizing' our dogs for while they are capable of a wide variety of feelings/emotions, they are not humans…. 😉