Dog Tail Behavior that Signals a Problem

A wagging tail is the classic sign of a happy dog, but certain movements of the tail can signify a problem for the dog. Dogs use body language to communicate and can give clear signals regarding their current frame of mind. The average person however, may not recognize these signs or might misinterpret the signals completely. It is important to be familiar with tail postures to get to know your own dog better and hopefully recognize a fearful or aggressive dog if you encounter one.

Erect Tail May Signal Aggression

If a dog's tail is stiff and raised high on the body, this is often a sign of heightened alertness and confidence. The tail may still wag but the movements are usually quick and the dog may have focused on an object, person or another dog. An erect tail does not necessarily mean the dog is aggressive but you may want to proceed with caution.

Tail Tucker Under Body Shows Anxiety

If the tail is tucked underneath the body, this is a common sign of fear or anxiety. These dogs are usually lacking in confidence and interpret their current situation as stressful. Fearful dogs may become aggressive if their level of anxiety increases. It may be best to leave a frightened dog alone or work slowly to gain his trust.

Dogs without tails will still give signals that can help you recognize their mood. In addition to a stiff or tucked tail, most dogs will have a similar body position. Confident dogs will stand tall with heads high and fearful dogs will often cower with their heads and bodies lowered.