Why does a dog wag its tail? A seemingly simple question requires a reference to dog behaviorism. It is worth deepening your knowledge in this field – it is an opportunity to get to know your pet better.
There is a common belief that wagging tail is a sign of dog’s satisfaction. Unfortunately, this is an oversimplification. We should start with the fact that a dog, unlike a human, cannot talk about its feelings. He needs to show them. And he can do it – the key is the owner’s careful observation of the dog, which will help to recognize the dog’s emotions. It is also important to know the situational context.
Not many people know that puppies start wagging their tails before the age of two months, which helps them communicate with their mother. Some say that tail wagging is formed when puppies compete for their mother’s food.
A dog’s tail wagging is not uniform. On the contrary, its movements vary in intensity. Their direction also varies. This has to do with, among other things:
– your dog’s character,
– its current feelings,
– the degree of subordination to the owner.
Research shows that a happy dog will wag its tail more to the right. Movement to the left is a sign of fear or nervousness. It’s worth remembering that, especially when dealing with other people’s animals. Additionally, it has been proven that with the tail wagging to the left the dog’s heart rate increases, often the animal starts to run restlessly.
The way a dog greets its friend says a lot about the relationship between them:
– an indifferent dog will wag its tail not too vigorously,
– a submissive dog – will wag its tail quickly or very quickly and the movements will seem a bit nervous with the tail pointing downwards,
– dominant dog – will wag its tail much slower, in a manner that gives the impression of distinction; its tail will be clearly raised.
A dog’s tail wagging cannot therefore be unambiguously considered equivalent to a human smile. Dog movements are far more ambiguous and more difficult to read.
By wagging its tail at another dog, our pet can transmit two kinds of signals that the owner’s eye should learn to recognize. Like a cat’s tail wagging, a dog’s tail wagging can express:
– joy at meeting another dog, who may turn out to be a companion for playing and frolicking together; this is an expression of the pack instinct in pets,
– uncertainty or fear of a potentially stronger representative of its species, a kind of nervousness and anxiety.
Keeping a close eye on our pet’s behavior allows us to recognize many of his moods. What about strange dogs? In the case of animals that we see perhaps for the first time in our lives, the situation is more difficult. Tail movements, however, give us a clue to recognize a dog’s intentions:
–high raised tail – a sign of excitement and high confidence; be especially careful, because especially when defending its territory such a dog can become aggressive,
– taillowered and curled between the legs – the dog is uncertain, afraid and most likely preparing to run away; lowering the tail is aimed at masking the smell from the perianal glands so as not to leave a trace
a slightly wagging tail – a sign of alertness or curiosity.
An interesting fact is that some scientists have a different view on the nature of tail wagging by the dog. According to them, such movements are an expression of conflict, which evoke different feelings in the animal. An example is the simultaneous joy and excitement that arise in the animal at the sight of its owner.