The tail is only one of many communicators on your dog’s body. As a trainer, I often hear, “BUT his tail was wagging…when he bit me!”

That is the trick of the tail! Somehow we silly humans have come to believe that a tail wag is THE sign of a happy dog. Because we’ve bred our dogs to be very social, most tails you encounter will indeed be happy, but along the way, you will see some that are nervous, and others that are ready for a throw down (watch out!).

Here’s how to read that tail of the moment:

Happy Tail: This coffee table’s nightmare is accompanied by a loose, relaxed dog. Similar to a rubber band or cooked spaghetti, the body is wigglin’ and movin’. The tail can be high or level with the plane of the back and very widely and loosely wagging back and forth. This tail is welcoming a greeting from you! Go for it! “HELLO DOG! I’m Dog Lover! NICE to meet you!”

Nervous Tail/Unsure Tail: Is carried below the plane of the back and maybe even tucked between the legs. Only the tip, if anything, is moving. This pup is slinking along either toward you or away. This dog is still likely social, just not sure what to quite make of you. Be gentle and go slow. Let the pup approach you. Do not stare into the dogs eyes and cower over them. This will make them unsure of you. Be patient. “Hey there Fella, it’s OK. I’m Dog Lover. Aww… good boy.”

Aroused/Aggressive Tail: Is high over the plane of back. It is tightly waving, just at the tip, erratically. It is accompanied by a stiff dog, who’s body appears “frozen still.” “Alrighty then Fido, let me give you a WIDE berth. I’m Dog Lover & I’m outta here.”

We should all know how to speak dog effectively. Increasing our ability to understand what dogs are telling us, keeps both us and them safe!

If you need help or advice with dog behavior problems such as pulling on the leash, jumping on people, aggression or fearfulness, please give us a call. We offer free evaluations (at your home or our facility) and affordable and effective solutions to all of your dog training needs.

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