One of the most common misconceptions of canine body language surrounds tail wagging. Most people believe that if a dog’s tail is wagging, they must be happy and content. Whilst this is often true, tail wagging can also be a sign of frustration, over stimulation and arousal. The key to working out how your dog is feeling is to look at the speed of wag and the movement of the rest of their body.
- A tail that wags around and around in circles and is paired with relaxed body movements and a wiggling bottom signals friendliness and that your dog is happy to be approached.
- A tail that is held high but wagged slowly means that the dog is assessing a situation and is not totally comfortable yet. Give him time to assess and adjust.
- A dog that is wagging his tail but barking with a defensive body posture, tense face, and hard staring eyes is overly aroused and frustrated, which means that he should not be approached by people or other animals
- A tail that is extended directly out means that the dog is tense and ready to take action.
- A tail that is tucked underneath your dog shows that they are feeling very uncomfortable, frightened or nervous. This is commonly seen paired with low body posture and avoidance of eye contact.
- Interestingly, the direction of your dog’s wag can also reveal a lot about how they feel about a person. When the tail wags more to the right, it suggests your dog likes the person. A tail wag to the left suggests the opposite – the person is unfamiliar to your dog.
Ear me out
Dog ears come in all shapes and sizes and your dogs ability to communicate with them depends on the breed. Regardless of their shape, most dogs ears can reveal secrets about how they are feeling depending on how they are positioned
- Ears that are in the natural position means your dog is relaxed and comfortable. The ears will not be pushed forwards or back but are just sitting in the natural position on your dog’s head.
- Ears that are pricked up or forward indicate that your dog is alert and is directing his ears to the source of his interest. You can keep an eye on his tail to see how he’s feeling about this new sound – a slow wag means he’s listening in to hear more whilst a directly extended tail suggests he’s feeling tense and about to spring into action.
- Ears that are just slightly back indicate friendliness and willingness to be approached. Again, you can watch the rest of the body for confirmation that he is feeling comfortable and friendly – the key is always in how wiggly his body is!
- However, ears that are completely back or flat on your dog’s head shows that they are feeling frightened or are submitting to someone or something. This may be paired with a tail between the legs and a low posture with body close to the ground, slinking away from you.
To keep your pooch’s tail wagging whilst you’re away, book a Mad Paws sitter now!