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Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

April 6, 2022

Tail wags are commonly associated with excitement or happiness. However, dogs wag their tails for a range of reasons, and this article covers the various wagging you may notice and what they might mean. 

What Is the Role of the Tail 

Your puppy’s tail is mainly a communicative tool and she would typically use it to pass across a range of information. You can regard it as a barometer for her mood. Knowledge of tail position, as well as the proper interpretation of further canine body language, can help you understand how your pup feels per time. 

Here are some general reactions and interpretations:

  • A lowered tail stuck between the legs could indicate anxiety, submission, or fear 
  • A higher than usual tail could indicate alertness, such as when something piqued her interest
  • A side to side wag probably accompanied by licks or a play bow could indicate a friendly greeting
  • A vertical tail could indicate aggression 

Before entirely concluding, be sure to look out for other factors. 

The Research 

According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dogs use the motion and position of their tails to communicate their present emotional state.

In 2007, researchers found that the wag pattern contains clues as well. For instance, wagging to the left implies negative emotions while wagging to the right was indicative of positive emotions. 

Research showed that the right hemisphere of the brain in some animals was associated with negative-avoidance feelings while the right hemisphere could be linked with positive-approach feelings. 

Since the brain’s right hemisphere controls the left part of the body and vice versa, the phenomenon would hold. 

A 2013 study also showed that canines understood these motions themselves. A left-wagging tail made other canines stressed while a right tail wagging helped them relax. 


The tail wag pattern could be a pretty good way to ascertain how your pup is reacting to a situation. However, that’s not all there can be, be sure to look out for other signs. 

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