It is important to understand assuming a wagging tail means a dog is feeling friendly is not always the case. We need to educate ourselves and our children to avoid unfortunate circumstances. Dogs tails are a way for them to communicate. They have a body language they use for talking to other animals including us. Taking time to understand the different combinations of tail positions is part of a conversation the dog is conveying will avoid an incident.

Three important Telling Tails Positions to keep in mind.

How high or low is the dog’s tail? Consider whether it’s a pure breed or mix breed with a typical tail or one, like a Chow, Basenji or Pug, that normally curl their tails over their backs.

If the tail is held high up over the back the dog is on alert. They feel like something’s not right. They may not me looking directly at you. In dog language a direct can be a challenge or it could very well be that their attention is on something else and not you. Relax, look around and don’t approach until you get a better signal.

If the dog’s tail is low, down near or between the hind legs the dog is telling us he is submissive, possibly fearful. This is our cue to slow down, soften and quiet voice. Use a comforting tone and encourage the dog to come to us instead of walking up to him.

If the dog’s tail is held mid-range the dog is telling us he is not threatened by our presence. Typically friendly, hey buddy what what’s going on, position. Often the height of a dog’s tail in this mid-range neutral zone indicates the confidence level. A good sign he’s confident and doesn’t feel he has any reason to distrust or have any fear is tail even with the dog’s back, or just a bit above. Should he start to lower his tail, they may be telling us they are not quite as confident and would like it if you’d let them get to know you a little more slowly

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Three important Telling TAIL motions to keep in mind

Wagging tails can be the dog who can barely keep his back end on the ground for the gyroscopic motion of his tail when you get home from work or say “gofer a walk?” If the dog is not yours, prepare yourself for the enthusiasm. But don’t run up to the dog. The dog’s may consider this as impolite and a confident dog displaying a level-with-the-back, wag the dog tail into one that drops lower and changes tone quickly. Mind your manners.

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When we see a dog with a barely perceptible, trembling wag. That one’s trying to tell us he’s unsure. If the tail is held high at the same time, these Telling TAILS are typically a warning to back off. If it’s down low, between the hind legs, the dog is probably telling us they are feeling uneasy.

When we see a calm wag we must consider this with position. A calm wagging of a dog’s tail while holding it in the mid-range, tells us the dog is content at ease. They are confident, and would probably like a pat or rub.

When we see a dog with a high over the back wag the dog is sizing us up. This Telling TAIL displays the dog’s confidence that they can take us on if they are challenged. They are telling us they are not frightened and do not consider our presence a threat. But they don’t trust us just yet. Mind your manners respect their assertiveness.

When we see a dog with a stiff tail they are telling us we are in their space, to go away, they don’t want to be bothered. Especially if the tail is lashing back and forth. Regardless of the position or motion a dog with a stiff tail is telling us we are a threat and they intend to deal with it. Best to distance ourselves from the dog give them their space. Avoid direct eye contact this could escalate the already tense situation.

A wagging tail is a complex part of a dog’s language that they are telling us to be read. So read up and there will be happy tails to tell.