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Stuff Dogs Like – Wagging Their Tails!

clover-wagDid you hear the one about the boy afraid to pet a neighbor’s dog?  The owner says, “He’s friendly – look, he’s even wagging his tail.” The boy responds, “Yeah, but he’s barking and growling.  I don’t know which end to believe!”

Ok, stupid joke!  It really is all about being able to read a dog’s body language.  Is the tail wagging?  What about the dog’s ears? Are they plastered back or standing nice and straight?  Is the tail wagging and the butt wiggling?   Is the tail wagging and the dog foaming at the mouth?  If so, move away, very very carefully.

Clover’s body language tells anyone approaching her that she’s an idiotic, butt wiggling, tail whacking smacking nut job, that has never bitten anyone.  This is one dog that has never even thought about biting, she would much rather take your knees out with her whip of a tale, sending you to the floor so she can sit on you and lick you to death.

Clover whacks that tail so hard when she is excited that she has, on occasion, split the end wide open  sending a Jackson Pollock-ish splatter of blood everywhere.  Its not a comforting sight, and can get really messy.  I have become quite expert at wrapping Clover’s tail with bandages and antibiotics.  I truly think that she lacks some nerves in her tail.  Either that or she has a huge capacity for pain.  I have always said her mind is wired a bit differently.  The vet says Clover suffers from a serious syndrome, common to Labrador Retrievers known as Happy Tail.

Cosmo’s tail wagging ability is a huge disappointment to me.  He can wag his tail, he just won’t.  At least not for me.  My mom walks in the room and his tail starts a-flapping.  His ears are up, he’s watching her move around, and if she stops to pet him or says hello to him, his tail cranks up turbo style.  For me?  Pffft.  Flap, wag, plop.  I mean really, Clover wags her tail in her sleep.  She wags her tail if I look at her, speak to her, or pet her.  Cosmo?  Flip, flap.  That’s about it.

Cosmo has become expert at ducking Clover’s tail.  Its really quite funny to see her dancing around with her tail whacking back and forth and Cosmo trying to dodge the tail-whacking.  When Cosmo was still growing, the tail would hit him across the face and he became expert at ducking the whip.  Now, he is taller than Clover, and lifts his head slightly and closes his eyes when the tail comes whipping around his way.

More Dog Tail Tales to come, including: “How I Broke Clover’s Tail (by me)” and, “What IS Cold Water Tail, And How Do I Get Rid of It (by Clover).”  I’ll save these two subject for a future posting.

Sorry.  I digress.  Back to some dog tail facts that you just cannot live without!

  • Dogs don’t wag their tails when they are alone.
  • Tail wagging is simply a physiological means of getting rid of surplus energy.
  • A dog uses its tail to provide balance when it is running or turning quickly.
  • Many dogs use their tail as a rudder when they are swimming.
  • Puppies do not wag their tails until they are about 4 months old.
  • The number of tailbones, and therefore the length of the tail, varies from breed to breed.
  • When dogs feel positive about something, a research team contended in their study, they wag their tails to the right side of their rear ends. When they have negative feelings, their tails lean left. (Ref the attached photo — I wonder if the body is pointing left if it negates the negative feelings of the tail?)Camera Critters

17 thoughts on “Stuff Dogs Like – Wagging Their Tails!

  1. When Tulip (English-bred lab) is REALLY happy, her tail goes around in a circle. We call her Rotary Rear. Her “boyfriend”, an old Aussie, is like Cosmo — he just squints to keep her tail out of his eyes. I don’t think he understands tails.


  2. When Tulip (English-bred lab) is REALLY happy, her tail goes around in a circle. We call her Rotary Rear. Her “boyfriend”, an old Aussie, is like Cosmo — he just squints to keep her tail out of his eyes.


  3. Our Maggie Beagle is one of those tail-wagging nutjobs, she is a very happy dog and she frequently wags. When my daughter (her owner) gets home from school, Maggie can hardly stand because she’s wagging her whole rear end and she has been known to fall over in her excitement because she can’t stand up! And her tail is dangerous if you are standing by her, she’s low to the ground but she wags with a lot of force and it smarts when it connects with somebody’s leg. Frasier does wag his tail, but not quite as much. His tail looks like the bones close to his body might have been broken at one point, he’s my sideways dog.


  4. I’d love to see my two in snow some day! I think Max would love it but Sadie would find it highly offensive and turn into a 60 pound baby and demand to be “held”

    They really don’t wag their tails till 4 months old? I really thought they were wagging their tails much earlier than that.


  5. Daisy split her tail open once too! It was awful to try and get it to heal, I thought it would take for ever but it finally did. She kept eating the bandage off :/ I am afraid it will happen again, but it hasn’t yet!


  6. We have tail issues also, but so far no blood! I laugh at Fritz because his tail is not very long, but it is the fastest tail I have ever seen. Zoe’s tail is long and elegant. She wags it plenty, but doesn’t get so vigorous. The only tail injury she had was when Fritz pulled on it once (that’s a charming little game he plays) and she reacted too quickly and sprained it. Apparently it was extremely painful, because she yelped whenever we touched it! I have never heard of a dog wagging their tail so hard that they split it open. That’s some serious wagging!!!


  7. Great article!! My Sadie has a docked tail…but it’s still kinda cute to see the little stub go back and forth….and her butt too!

    I hope you have a Great Thanksgiving Week!


  8. it feels so good to go home especially to tail wagging, face licking, feet prancing creatures. they sure do communicate that they are so happy to have us home. :-)

    nikki my min-pin wags her rear-end to compensate her lack of a tail probably. :-)


  9. I grew up with a samoyed dog, and she was giving mixed signals. She was just like in that old joke, she’d wag her tail so hard her entire butt swayed, but her ears would always flatten back along her head, and she’d show her teeth. She never, not once, in the 13 years my family had her, acted aggressive, or even so much as growled at us – I don’t know, I guess it was just how she looked when she was happy.


  10. My brother calls my dogs tail Lethal weapon no.5 I totally agree if your in the way. Learnt a long time ago to steer clear of it, for safety reasons. Loved the post.


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