By Monday, January 17, 2022 4 No tags Permalink

The tales of a dog’s tail are roadmaps to communication. Each movement (or stillness) barks volumes! We just need to “speak tail” to interpret the meaning behind each wag.

When it comes to non-verbal communication, Harley is the wizard #pawsdown. He has always fascinated me by his facial expressions and physical mannerism. Early in our relationship he converted me as a believer that dogs are very intuitive AND have the ability to master deductive reasoning.

My interest in the rear end of a dog started as I read a very interesting book about understanding/interpreting a dog’s body language.

Spending time with the family during the holiday’s I became obsessed with Jaxson’s tail. Not so much that it moved all the time, but more so on how it moved.

For years I always thought – 

a wagging tail was a sign that a dog was happy to see you 

That is not always the case.


When it comes to communication we as humans listen, but dogs watch.

The next time you see your dog’s tail move, pay close attention to the activity which triggered the movement, and then study how the tail wagged. Your dog’s tail talks to us – we just need to understand how to interpret it…

Whole tail wagging with enthusiasm: happy and excited!

Held low, with the tip wagging very fast: anxious

High, sweeping slowly from side to side: alert

Between the legs, hunched posture: anxious and frightened

Stiff and high, staring or growling: aggressive

My goal is to use these indicators when it comes to therapy work. Often Jaxson is asked to visit a patient and he has always complied. Now I study his tail when we enter a room. I want to make sure he is genuinely excited and open to more of this stranger’s affection vs. putting up with it wanting to please me.

I try to think of it this way – his tail is one sure way of letting me know he’d rather not participate or extend a visit. #itisathing


Even though Harley and Jaxson are both Goldendoodles, their normal/natural tail positions differ. Harley is the unique one (of course) his tail hangs limp and down – that’s his natural look. Jax is all over the place, his tail typically never really stays still #propellertail

Tail positions have multiple meanings

  • Agitation
  • Negotiations
  • Agression
  • Submission
  • Curiosity
  • Happiness

The speed in which a tail wags tells a tale too! –

  • Excitement
  • Insecurity
  • Friedndliness
  • Aggression

Canine “tail talk” is so complex that even the direction of the wagging is significant. Studies show that dogs wag their tails to the right when they are happy or confident and to the left when they are frightened. Interestingly, there is a scientific reason for this. The left side of the rain controls movement on the right side of the body and vice versa. Therefore the left brain is engaged when the tail wags to the right and the right brain causes the tail to move to the left. Since the left side of the brain is associated with positive feelings (like love and serenity,) a happy dog wags his tail to the right Conversely, the right half of the brain is associated with negative feelings like fear and depression, so a frightened dog wags his tail to the left.

Resource: VCA Animal Hospital


When I catch one of them staring at me from across the room, I can’t help but ask myself –

What’s my dog thinking?

To really understand them is to study their behavior. if I work hard at that, I believe it will open up this mysterious window of understanding how to give them a happy life! Right now I think they’re pretty content living with me AND hanging out at work.

See (and hear) for yourself as Jaxson’s tail tells his own story beating on the side of the door frame when Matt comes into the office…

YouTube player

Tell us – what do you know about your dog’s tales?

A dog wags his tail with his heart ❤️

  • Madison
    January 17, 2022

    Yes, tails do tell quite a tale about us dogs. We read other dogs by all their different movements and we read humans the same way. Sadly, most humans are not very good at reading us dogs or using their own movement to let us dogs know what they want from us.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 18, 2022

      Don’t fret Madison, soon humans will start to realize a better understanding about how their dog is thinking makes for a superior relationship for all. Glad to hear from you 🙂

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    January 18, 2022

    Tails are the most accurate barometer on a dog. But in Normans case, his butt wiggle tells and ear position tells me how’s he’s perceiving patient visits since he’s sans tail. LOL

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 18, 2022

      Well now you’ll never get an argument out of me regarding the importance of a good butt wiggle! LOL

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