It’s All in The Tail

What can our pups tail tell us? 

It wags like crazy, it can be short or long, it can tell us what mood their in…’s a pups’ tail! A pups’ tail wags uncontrollably when they see us. It’s something that melts our hearts and makes us feel special. It tells us that they are happy to see us, that they missed us, and that they love us. But what else can our pups’ tail tell us?

Lets first start with answering, “Why do pups have tails?”. There are three reasons why pups have tails; for balance, movement, and communication. Additionally, because they are so cute.. okay, so maybe four reasons.

Tails acts as a counter balance for a pup. While they are climbing, or running the tail helps to even out their balance by putting weight on the opposite side of their body. The tail also helps in assisting a pups movement.  When a pup is running and makes a turn the tail acts as something like a steering wheel. The tail will go in the direction that the pup is about to turn, in order to assure a smoother turn, and so that they don’t go tumbling like a gymnastic athlete (but not as graceful).

Communication is key to any relationship. Especially your relationship with your pup… being that they can’t speak human and all. However, pups don’t use their tails to just communicate with us humans. They mostly use it to communicate with other pups. Lucky for us simple humans, we have learned how to translate what the tail movements mean. Their tail can tell us if they are happy, if they like you and want to play, if they are scared, and if they are on alert (just to name a few).

One way a pup uses their tail to communicate with other pups, is in such a way that us humans won’t be able to understand. A standing tail use muscles around the anal gland underneath the tail that secrets a pups unique smell. More dominate pups will keep their tails up to let the other pups know they are there. While timid pups will mostly keep their tails low with little movement, as if flying under the radar.

Some shocking news, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean a happy dog. According to scientists the direction in which the tail is waging and the speed of the tail can help you better interpret what it is your pup is saying. Studies support the theory that a pups’ tail wages to the right when they are happy, and to the left when they are scared.

Regardless of how cute the pup and their wagging tail is, it is important to pay attention to what that tail is telling you.  This can help another pup, or human from being bit.  It can also help your pup out if they are scared, or sad. Check out this cool diagram we found from Paws First Choice.


  1. Pup is confident and dominant;  they are the leader of all dogs. Be aware.
  2. Threat.  If you weren’t aware before, be afraid now.  Ready to attack.
  3. Show off.  “Look at me” attitude.
  4. Unconcerned.  Unbothered. Can care less.
  5. Uncertain threat.  Not to sure if they should be worried but just incase let’s be scary.
  6. Eating. “Don’t mess with me when I’m eating”.
  7. Subordinate.  Usually the posture around their owner, or pup.
  8. Unsure if should be threat or defense.  In between works, just incase.
  9. Subordinate towards authority, or other pups.
  10. Really subordinate towards authority, and other pups.
  11. Obedient and submissive towards authority, and other pups.

Click the link to read more about what a pups tail is telling us.  

What a pups tail is telling us.

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