It can sometimes be difficult to know what your dog is trying to tell you, if only someone would invent a dog to human interpreter! Don’t worry, even though we don’t have an app invented to interpret dog barks yet, your dog is communicating with you all the time with their body language. You can see how your dog is feeling just by looking at his mouth, eyes, paws, and especially his tail! The many ways your dog wags his tail are not by accident, read on to learn what your dog’s tail is telling you!
The Tense Tail:
A tense tail is one that is often held in a very prominent ‘C’ curve. It is not wavering, but instead perfectly still and looks very stiff. The ‘stiffer’ the dog’s tail will often mean the more tense the dog is.
Often you will see this tail behaviour occur when a dog has something of high interest in his surroundings such as a squirrel running up a tree or watching another dog play. Depending on the situation your dog is reacting to, a stiff tail can mean he is very interested to investigate something, or he is possibly anxious of something approaching. For example if a dog is nervous of strangers and he notices a stranger approaching him, you may see his tail stiffen, communicating with you that he is uneasy about the current situation. Approach a dog that has a tense tail with caution as they are in a very reactive state and may become aggressive if haven’t calmed down properly first.
The Scared or Anxious Tail:
If your dog has his tail curled under his body, it will usually mean that he is in a very anxious or scared state. The more tightly curled under his body the tail is will tell you the degree of his anxiety (very curled under means very anxious). A tucked under tail generally means your dog is not having a good time. Find what could possibly be affecting your dog in this way and help your dog overcome the situation. If he is simply scared of something he hasn’t seen before, enlist the help of a dog trainer/ behaviorist to help your dog overcome his fear and change it into a positive association.
The Happy-Go-Lucky Tail:
One of the best tail movements to see is the happy-go-lucky tail. When your dog is happy or excited he will have a proud upright tail that is wagging back and forth or sometimes in a windmill motion. This movement most often means that your dog is happy and/or in a playful mood. It is common to see a big wagging tail when you come home from a long day, or when jumping in a car to go to the dog park!
The tail can be a huge giveaway to what your dog is telling you. But keep in mind that to get the best understanding of what your dog is trying to tell you, look at their entire body to see if they are tense, anxious, happy or excited. Also take into account their surroundings and situation so you are able to get a full understanding of how your dog is feeling. Bettering the communication between you and your dog will strengthen your bond and help your dog feel they are being heard and acknowledged.