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How Dogs Use Their Tails To Communicate


Much like we use our facial expressions and body language to show how we are feeling, dogs use their tails to communicate to each other. They do also express how they are feeling and give signals to other dogs by their general body language, using their ears, face and body. However, their tail is a very big indicator as to what they are trying to convey. Dog’s tails were originally used for balance and over time man’s best friend has also learned to use them to communicate.

When you see another dog approaching your dog, have a look at their tail to see if you can determine whether they want to be approached or not. You should look at the speed they wag their tail, the position they are holding their tail in and whether their tail is up or tucked down between their legs. A dog that wags it’s tail does not always want to be approached, it depends how they are holding their tail. However, you shouldn’t just use their tail as the main indicator, you should also look at the rest of their body to get a more accurate picture of how they are feeling.

Some research conducted by an Italian research team has shown that in general when dogs wag their tails happy dogs will wag their tail to the right first. The study involved 43 dogs of various breeds. Some more nervous dogs can move their tail more to the left. In their study they showed dogs videos of other dogs wagging their tail more towards either the left or the right. The dogs that saw tails wagging more towards the left had increased heart rate and showed signs of anxiety. The dogs that saw tails wagging to the right were much more relaxed.


Dogs are really perceptive and they can pick up on even the slightest of tail movements to try and figure out what another dog is telling them. Dogs might not be able to completely understand what other dogs are feeling but they have learn’t over time which specific movements they should be worried about. Dogs can communicate very strong emotions simply by wagging their tail in a different manner. They show emotions such as fear, excitement, anger, agitation and happiness. These subtle differences can sometimes be difficult for humans to read because dogs often wag their tails too fast. However, if you video dogs and watch the videos back in slow motion you should be able to see the changes in movement.

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