Communicating with your dog is essential to laying the groundwork for a successful, happy relationship.  One way your dog communicates with you is through his body language.  Many of us are well in tune with what our dog is trying to tell us but, contrary to what we might want to believe we could all stand to learn a thing or two more.  We got our hands on an awesome book, “How to Speak Dog: A Guide to Decoding Dog Language” and even we learned a few things about “How to Speak Dog”!  One section in this book is called “Telling Tails” and it tells you all about how to recognize what your dog is saying by the wag of his tail.  Keep reading to learn more.

The Stiff, High Tail: A high, stiff tail indicates that your dog may be ready to attack!  He’s on guard and is probably signaling for someone (human or animal) to stay back.

The Crooked Tail: A dog with a crooked tail is not a happy camper.  The crooked tail is just another sign that your dog feels threatened by someone or something.  This could be triggered by a strange noise, smell or a person but never doubt that this dog means business.

The Scared Wag: Many people think that a wagging tail is always a sign of a happy dog.  That’s a dangerous misconception.  A high stiff tail that wags slowly at the end or a high stiff tail that jerks to and fro signals uncertainty or fear.

The Tucked Tail: If your dog, or any other dog, tucks his tail between his legs that means he’s scared.  Approaching a strange dog that is scared, could lead to you getting bit so keep your distance.  If it’s your own dog that’s scared, you might want to consider the source of his fear.  Is he anxious? Afraid of another dog?  

The Straight Tail:  A straight tail, as opposed to a stiff tail, shows that your dog is interested.  Ever wonder what your dog likes?  His tail will tell you!  The straight tail will be level with your dog’s back and will be pointed away from your dog’s body.  

The Happy Wag: This is the most popular tail and maybe the most recognizable wag to most of us!  A wagging tail signifies a happy dog!  This wag is different than the scared wag as it’s more like a wave hello.  Look for that big, sweeping wag that expresses love.  The happy wag is also a fast wag.  

If you want to learn more about your dog’s body language, be sure to pick up a copy of “How to Speak Dog: A Guide to Decoding Dog Language” by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman, D.V.M.  This book is so straightforward – even your kids can read it!   The more you and your family learn about how your dog communicates, the happier you’ll all be!   Not only that, it will keep you all SAFE when interacting with other people’s dogs, too!

By Noelle Dunn