What is a dog saying by swishing his tail?

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Dogs often communicate using their tails. Although it’s important to look at a variety of factors when attempting to determine a dog’s frame of mind, it’s helpful to learn some basic information that concerns the tail wag.

There’s a myth that a wagging tail always signals friendliness in dogs, but that’s simply not true. When the wagging tail “swishes,” your dog is relaxed and will hold his or her tail in its natural position. In these cases, the tail swings back and forth gently. Swishing tails sometimes make a sound like a gentle breeze and it’s not unusual to even be hit in the face with them from time to time!

Make sure you teach your kids “tail language,” because sometimes the tail will wag, but it will mean the dog is not up for playing or wants to be left alone. If the tail wags, but swings slowly, it can indicate anger and possibly a looming attack. The tail can also signal fear or submission.

When your dog feels nervous or submissive, he will hold his tail lower and might even tuck it between his rear legs. The tail might even still wag from side to side, often at a more rapid pace than if the dog is relaxed. If your canine is really scared or feeling extremely submissive, he might hold his tail tucked up tight against his belly. When your dog is alert, he will probably hold his tail higher than normal. Often, the dog will hold his tail stiff, without any movement at all. If the dog is standing its ground or threatening someone (a person or another animal), he may “flag” its tail, which means the dog holds it stiff and high and moves it rigidly back and forth. It might look like a wagging tail, but everything else about the dog’s body language should express to you that it is not feeling friendly at the moment.

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