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Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tail?

(December 9, 2010)

Dog Tail Wagging

Dog tail wagging is a behavior closely associated with dogs, and it seems that tail wagging is linked with a desire to communicate information to other members of the pack. Dogs are pack animals that are highly sociable, so they wag their tails to send social cues. Dogs generally don't wag their tails when they are alone. That being said, if they are left alone for long they wag a little out of boredom and separation anxiety.
Dogs are probably the only species of the many in the animal kingdom that have tails that commonly wag their tails. Dogs wag their tails in response to stimuli. The position of the tail also appears to have some bearing on the meaning. This action can however imply a variety of emotions. Dogs wag their tail for several reasons which can be determined by observing their body language and mood. Your dog wags its tail to send a message about its status and current emotions. Apart from tail wagging barking, whining and growling are used by the dog to communicate. Tail wagging, however, is the most commonly used.

A dog's tail position and motion is part of a complex system of body language that domestic dogs use to show their emotions or communicate with family members.

Keep in mind that tail-wagging is a form of communication: the god is broadcasting its emotions. A dog which keeps its tail high in the air while wagging it may be aggressive. Frightened or nervous dogs may wag their tails stiffly between their legs. A tail held low between its legs means that the dog is scared or submissive. A slow wag can mean that a dog does not understand what is happening or what its master is trying to say to it. Dogs are said to exhibit a left-right asymmetry of the tail when interacting with strangers, and will show the opposite, right-left motion with people and dogs they know. The kind of tail wagging that we are most familiar with is probably when a dog wags his or her tail straight out, which could be assumed to mean that the dog is excited and happy.

Dogs sometimes wag their tails when angry, too. Similarly, a dog wags its tail to show its friendliness or submissiveness when approached by other dogs.

Different breeds wag differently. Some don't wag their tails very much whereas some breeds wag a lot, but they all wag for the same reasons. There is some variation in the amount and positioning of the tail wag within different breeds.

Submitted by N M on December 9, 2010 at 12:26


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