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Is a dog who wags his tail always happy?

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The tail is very important of the communication for dogs. Not only the movement tells us something, also how high the tail is held is important (low, neutral or high).

  • A tail that is kept high will be interpreted enthusiastic or threatening. A stiff waggle may be meant as a threat. A very enthusiastic dog will have a very broad wag.
  • A low tail basically says that the dog does not mean any harm.
  • A tail that is kept against the belly is afraid or feels very uncomfortable.
  • A neutral tail suggests that the dog is comfortable. Most of the time the dog will wag its tail gently.

Always look at the context and the entire body language of the dog. Its pose, ears, eyes, mouth, hairs etc and the tail together tell best how the dog feels and what he wants to tell.

The breed is also important. Some dogs, like the Jack Russell of dogs with a curly tail like the poodle, naturally wear their tail high. This can lead to miscommunication.

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