A brown dog in a playful position with text "Language of The Wag"

Do you consider yourself fluent in “wag”? Dogs communicate almost everything they feel through body language, and the tail is the most expressive part of the canine body. Tail wagging can often indicate that the dog is happy, but it can also suggest a variety of other emotions and intentions. Sometimes a wagging tail is a friendly happy dog – or it can signal just the opposite.

There is more to a dog’s tail than meets the eye, considering different breeds have different tail types. For instance, pugs have short, curly tails and may not be able to communicate the same wag information as, say, a whippet tail. How can we know what a dog’s tail wag means when there are so many variations of dogs? Learning to recognize the different tail wags as a form of communication, may save a bite to the hand later.

Here are five key things in the placement of a dog’s tail, according to the Center for Shelter Dogs at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine:
• Circular swish: A dog whose tail is swishing back and forth or in a circular motion is one happy pooch.
• Lowered or tucked tail: A dog who is frightened or feeling submissive.
• Tail wagging stiffly: Dog who is excited about an upcoming walk or a negative sign like an intimidating stranger.
• Tail held straight out: Dog showing alertness to perhaps curious about something nearby.
• Sudden tail raise: This could indicate the dog is feeling aggressive.

Dogs don’t talk like humans, but they do communicate. Learn to read the signs. With a little practice and patience, you will be speaking “wag” in no time.

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