Although some wags have been linked to happiness, others may be anxiety, uncertainty, social pressure, or even a message that you can get bitten if you touch them.
It is normal to think that dogs wag their tails because they are comfortable and friendly, but that is not necessarily true.
A lowered tail between the legs can signal anxiety or fear. A slow wag might mean a dog is uncertain of a situation and insecure.
The tail that is higher than usual means something piqued the attention of your dog, and it is a warning, whereas wagging side to side may be a friendly welcome, particularly when followed by a play or a couple of licks.
Wags Speed Indicator
There are three main distinct types of wags:
Slow to Medium Wag
The slow-to-medium wag is ideal for welcoming friends or welcome home. It is also to show that your dog is relaxed and enjoying the moment.
Medium or Neutral Wag
The medium or the neutral wag shows that he is excited to see you or about to initiate a play session. It is an indication of an upcoming interaction between two dogs.
Fast or Rapid Wag
The fast, back and forth motion typically shows that your dog is feeling aggressive. This could be a sign that the dog has been overly excited to see you and is ready to play; however, it may also be a sign of fear or aggression. Sometimes dogs may back up or move towards one another because they are about to fight.
Side to Side Wag
Dogs that are wagging their tails fast side to side are usually not aggressive. The movement is more of a flirty, inviting – even flirtatious – gesture. He will also be able to get his face closer to you as he is greeting you.
Some dogs wag their tails more than the average amount, and they may push their tail against something such as another dog or a branch, which indicates the degree of anxiety or fear. That activity can also be due to a lack of self-control that your dog is experiencing while in the presence of other dogs and people, or very strong emotions such as boredom.
When a dog wags its tail excessively, it can be an indication of over-arousal. In such a case, the dog may be anxious and fearful to the point of feeling as though his entire body is trembling. The best thing to do in such a case is to avoid interacting with the dog for a few hours so he can get back into control.
The faster a dog is wagging its tail, the more animated and excited it is. At times, the dog’s tail is seen to wag so quickly that it seems to be vibrating; this shows how excited your pet is.
When a dog subtly moves its tail, it indicates that it is uncertain of a stranger or whether it should approach. You need to pay close attention when a dog is wagging its tail subtly because it means it is paying attention to assess a situation.
Circular motions: when a dog is wagging its tail in circular motions, it shows signs of happiness and that it feels relaxed. The dog may be excited for the treats or the food that it smells, or it may be seeing a person that it loves that it has not seen in a very long time.
A dog that is apprehensive or fears it will be attacked will tuck its tail between its hind legs. This behaviour can also occur when the dog is afraid of being teased by other dogs in the neighbourhood. It can also be a sign of fear or anxiety.
When a tail is vertical, the dog is most likely attempting to subdue the other dog(s) present, but when it arches up or down, it is preparing to attack. The more a tail is straight, the more the threat is perceived to be. This allows the dog to release its anal scent while marking its territory.
A tail raised horizontally means the dog is vigilant and interested in something nearby. The dog may be about to attack. The movement of the tail from a vertical to a down position or a high and up position might mean that it is in a bad mood.
Tail Wagging is Not Universal
Individual dogs vary in how often they can use their tails to communicate. As with humans, dogs will have their own quirky and unorthodox behaviors related to their tail positioning and movement. If you continue to familiarize yourself with your dog, you can learn to understand the meaning of the different tail wags that it will display and what is being communicated.
The most important thing to remember about the tail is that it serves as a signalling tool for dog body language. Since dogs have a built-in instinct to wag their tails when they are feeling happy or relaxed, it’s not hard for you to interpret the messages they’re sending.
Dogs often wag their tails for attention; if you ignore them or scold them, they might try to get your attention by holding their tail up higher.
One of the essential things to bear in mind is that a wagging tail does not always denote a happy or agreeable animal. The tail-wagging of a dog is proof of the connection the animal has with its surroundings, not necessarily its mood.