Can Dogs Control Their Tails?

If only dogs could talk. Well, actually there’s no need to fear as they do have a way of communicating to help humans (and other animals) understand their wants and needs. One of the most common signs that dogs perform is expressing their mood with the help of their tails.

Can dogs control their tails?
Yes, much like humans can control their smile, a dog can control their tail. While their tail make seem mostly to respond instinctively a dog does have some control over their tail movements and position.

Dr. Stanley Coren, a University of British Columbia professor has stated that when the tail is at middle height, the dog is relaxed. When the tail is at a horizontal position, it conveys that a dog is alert and attentive. When the tail moves father up, this manifests that the dog is more threatening.

If the tail is vertically positioned, the dog is asserting its dominance or issuing a warning for others to back off. When the tail drops lower in position, the dog is signalling a more submissive stance, or it feels poorly or worried. When the tail is tucked in, this translates to a sign of fear.

What Does The Speed Of Tail Wagging Convey?

The language of dog tails is complex as they have various signals that determine what they are feeling inside. When you observe the wagging of their tails, this is where you can distinguish their mood or excitement.

The faster the wag, the more excited that dog is. You need to note that the tail wagging is from instinct and not from a 100% conscious thought. This is more of instinctive action, unlike a conscious decision.

Wagging Tail Direction Tells Of What?

Wagging Tail Direction Tells Of What?

Aside from the position and the speed of the wagging of a dog’s tail, the direction of the wagging also manifests a form of signal that dogs use to communicate. According to research, a dog wagging its tail to the right indicates a more positive vibe, and wagging to the left indicates fear, anxiety, or stress.

This explanation could be interconnected with the functions of the brain. The left hemisphere of the brain is the one attributed to positive-approach feelings and also controls the right side of the dog’s body.

Back in 2013, a study was performed and it determined that dogs can tell the meaning of the wagging direction in other dogs. The study utilized 43 dogs from different breeds and showed them videos of dogs that were wagging their tails in both the left and right directions. This is to check how these dogs react by monitoring their heart rate through a vest. The dogs that were shown a left wag video manifested anxiety symptoms and their heart rate sped up.

Why Tails Are Important

The tails of dogs play a huge role in communication. Aside from this, the tail also acts as a rudder when dogs swim in the water. A tail also helps dogs to keep their balance while running. This helps them in taking tight turns and not falling over while they run.

It is alarming to know that many dog owners or breeders opt to dock the tails of their dogs just to prioritize cosmetic reasons. This procedure has already been deemed illegal in the United Kingdom. It has been distinguished as unnecessary because it can compromise the balance and the communication methods of dogs.

When you eliminate one of the most helpful means to determine the signals that a dog conveys, it would be more difficult to understand the dog and provide its needs.

Why Does A Dog Chase It's Tail At Times?

Why Does A Dog Chase It’s Tail At Times?

A dog won’t normally chase its tail for no reason. They do this because of pests that cling to their tail and bother them such as fleas or worms.

This is a sign of irritation and not a sign of excitement or playfulness. When a dog chases its tail for a long period, this just means that it is not successful in getting rid of what’s bothering it. This is also one reason why pet care and regular cleaning are necessary.

When you notice your dog doing this, immediately determine that something is off. It would be best to clean your house or the portion of your home where your dog usually stays or plays at. Worms and fleas can be catalysts for fatality if not treated properly.

What Does A Dog Tail Consist of?

A dog’s tail is an extension of the backbone of the canine. They vary in length as some are small stubs while some are long. The structure of the tail is a combination of bones and muscles and they work together in creating the movement, more especially the wagging motion.


Understanding certain signals of dogs can be easier when you know the meaning behind the positioning and the wagging motion of their tails. This means that dogs can easily convey what they are feeling via what they showcase through their tail’s actions.

The height and position of the tail can serve as an outright indicator of what dogs want or what dogs feel.

The wagging of the tail also conveys the level of excitement of dogs. The faster they wag their tails, the more excited they feel. You can easily notice this when you play with your dogs.

However, you should take note that this is an action out of instinct and not from outright consciousness.

Even the direction of the tail wagging can help communicate what the dog feels. Wagging to the right showcases a more positive presence while wagging towards the left conveys a negative feeling such as stress, anxiety, and fear.

Dogs can control their tails but sometimes their actions are not 100% from pure consciousness. Some of their tail movements are from instinct.

The importance of a dog’s tail signals should be considered with utmost priority. Man’s best friend has evolved through the centuries and their ability to communicate through signals via their tail has helped strengthen this bond between humans and canines.