It doesn't matter if your dog's tail wags in a sweeping side-to-side motion or a high-speed wiggle butt, it always makes you happy, right? Is this, however, a sign that he's content?
The tail of a dog can reveal a lot about how he's feeling. While a person expresses her emotions through facial expressions, a dog expresses his feelings mostly through his tail and other body language.
That's when the age-old question arises: Does wagging a dog's tail indicate happiness? Lauren Novack, ABDBC, KPA-CTP, FPPE, a behaviour consultant at New York City's Behavior Vets, explains: "This is an excellent question because many people believe that happy dogs wag their tails, but this is not always the case. The position and movement of a tail are only a small component of the overall picture. The tail is one word in a sentence if a dog's entire body is a sentence."
When attempting to interpret the wag, there are three main things to look at:
Keep your distance if the dog's body is stiff, as this indicates that they are not inviting interaction.
The tail position comes next. "When a dog's tail is tucked towards its abdomen, it indicates that the dog is afraid. They may be perplexed if the tail is dangling. If the dog's tail is parallel to the ground and in line with its spine, it is most likely relaxed "Novack elucidates. "They are in a state of arousal if their tail is raised high, which can signal fear, anxiety, or potential violence."
To add to the confusion, Novack points out that not all dogs' tails are the same, so "tucked" and "raised" may not look the same on two dogs.
Finally, pay attention to the tail movement. Arousal, or the rate at which a dog's tail wags, might indicate stress or eustress (a positive form of stress). To put it another way, just because a dog's tail is wagging swiftly doesn't mean it's excited.
Your dog is probably enthusiastic if his tail is parallel to the ground and wagging swiftly. He's uneasy if his tail is held high, wagging rapidly, and his body is stiff.
The helicopter tail, on the other hand, is the one tail wag that always implies your dog is happy—you know, when she wags her tail super quickly in crazy little circles?
Every dog owner has noticed a dog wagging his tail while sleeping. It's both amusing and surprising when he appears to be resting quietly and then, all of a sudden, wap-wap-wap goes that tail!
When dogs are in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is a deep state of rest, they dream just like people. You may notice twitching, soft whimpering or woofing, or paws running in the air in addition to tail wags (also called paddling). He's most certainly dreaming.
Wouldn't it be fascinating to learn what he's dreaming about? Is this a happy nightmare? Or will it be a nightmare? Because the present body of canine study has yet to crack that code, it's really anyone's guess. He could be chasing squirrels, playing with his companions, or wandering through the woods. One thing is certain: it's entertaining for dog owners to see their furry pals be very cute when they're dreaming, tails waggled and all.
If you want to do additional "study" on the subject, look up "dog tail wagging" on YouTube. There will be belly laughs—and your dog by your side could enjoy witnessing all of the wiggly-wagglies!
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