Is A Dog Friendly Just Because It Wags Its Tail?


In the past people understood much more about animals than they do today. People knew how to read animal’s “body language”. However, if you tell someone today that cows, pigs, and goats have body language they will probably laugh at you pretty hard. The lack of contact with animals in our modern society has caused the general population to be somewhat ignorant in regards to them.

This may seem fine if you live in the city, however, there are dangers even in the city. For example, what about dogs? Most Americans are extremely uncertain about how to read a dog’s body language.

For example, most people conclude that if a dog wags its tail it is friendly. This mistake has resulted in many unnecessary dog attacks! While it is true that a friendly dog usually wags its tail, that does not mean that the waging of the tail in itself means that a dog is friendly. The combination of a waging tail along with other signs indicates whether or not a dog is truly friendly. So if you do not want to be bitten by a dog, remember the following signs.

Signs That Can Save You From Being Attacked

As we just emphasized, don’t judge a dog’s temperament based on whether or not he wags his tail. It is important to understand the posture of the dog. Ask yourself whether or not he is alert and anxious or if he is relaxed. Equally important is the facial expression of the dog. How can you tell what his facial expression is? The easiest place to start is with his ears. Are they tense, or are they laying down flat? What about his eyes? If you can see his teeth, why? Is it because he is panting in a relaxed manner, or are his lips tensed back in a menacing way?

What About the Tail?

Now that we have that out of the way, lets take a closer look a the dog’s tale. Many are surprised to learn that there are many different things that you can understand about a dog based on its tail ‘expressions’.

If the dog is confident and/or alert its tail will usually be upright and stiff. If wagged it will usually be in a stiff slow sweeping motion from one side to another. When the wag is from one side to another it is usually safe to assume that the dog is pleasantly exited.

Logically, if the dog’s tail is relaxed the dog is likewise relaxed. When a dog stands his ground and does not want to let you pass he will at times wag his tail, however, the way he wags it usually reveals his intentions. His tail will be stiff, horizontal, and only slightly wagged.

If the dog’s tail is tucked in between his legs this usually means that he is fearful and/or submissive. This, however, does not indicate that you do not have to worry. On the contrary, most dogs attack motivated by fear.

As we have briefly discussed in this article, a wagging tail can mean many things. The dog may be stating his status, warning you, or greeting you. Through observation you will get good at reading dogs and knowing how to act. For now remember that if a dog’s posture even slightly suggests that he is unfriendly, be careful! This may just save you from being bitten!


P.S. Do you need some advice from a Canine Behavior Specialist?  If so CLICK HERE now!

About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists in Nashville, TN.  Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network.

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