We will start with low tail, How low is the tail? Is it between the dog’s legs or just pointing down to the ground? I owned a Dutch Shepherd female named Apache. She was one if the best working dog I ever seen. She was a patrol and narcotics detection dog. Most of the time her tail was pointing to the ground, and everywhere I would go with her people will state “she’s afraid” “I’m sure of it, look at her tail”, but the fact was Apache will wag her tail only in the appearance of a tennis ball or in protection training. That was the only time you could see her super excited and happy. But, does it mean she was afraid any other time?! No. She was neutral to the environment very aloof tube behavior unless was commanded. So not always low tail means fear. Unless the tail is tucked between the dog’s legs and usually you will notice other displacement behaviors. (Yawning, lip licking etc.)
Wagging tail can mean happiness but it depends in the level, speed and tension. And of course always consider the breed and environment. If it is a Labrador Retriever who just see his owner walk-in through the house door at the end of a working day and his tail wags in circles it will be easy to guess this dog is happy, but if a stranger walk into the house and the dog has his tail high moving slowly from about 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock, is he happy??? I would say he’s unsure and thinking what his response should be, thinking his next move. Most people will mistakenly think this dog is happy and friendly and will approach to pet the dog, which means he might be friendly to them or NOT. For example, with dogs who has a bobtail, it will he even harder to read the dog mood, but many times you could see very obviously that this dog’s tail is moving in a very high speed and is happy.
Let’s discuss a dog who’s tail is very high stiff with the tip of the tail pointing forward toward his head. What does that means? Usually it means the dog is threatening something/someone. Beware of this dog. Unless, it could be Norwegian Elkhound who’s most of the time has he’s tail very high.
In conclusion, the fact that the Tail is the dog’s barometer is correct, but we need to learn the rest of the dog’s Language to make proper assessment on the dog mood. As well as consider the breed, and the situation the dog is in at the moment.
You can always join us to our “Speak your Dog’s Language” classes to learn more of the the secrets of dogs.
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