12 Signals Your Tail-Wagger Is Trying To Warn You With


When you see your dog wag their tail, you take it as a pleasant sign, knowing that they are happy. Your dog can’t seem to wag their tail fast enough from excitement when they see you after a long day away from home.

However, studies have shown that the wag of a tail is not always a friendly, happy gesture. Naturally, tail wagging isn’t the only thing you should be paying attention to when it comes to dogs. There are several other, highly important signs that you should know about.


A wag to the left or wag to the right can indicate possible signs of fear, insecurity, a challenge or a warning sign that may say “beware or I’ll bite!” Knowing the different signals and tail-wagging combinations can give you a clue to what your dog is feeling.

Although humans might get the impression that the direction of the wag is unimportant, there is a huge difference between a wag more to the left and a wag to the right and extended higher.  If you really want to know what your dog has to tell you, you just have to read the obvious signs.

Remember that not all wags are equal and some are a lot more welcoming than others. Marcello Siniscalchi of the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy and colleagues decided to look at asymmetry in dog wags and reached some significant conclusions.

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  • Average Redneck Girl

    What about propeller wags? This is where the tail goes around and around in the fashion of a propeller. It is sometimes accompanied by the the wiggly behind where the dog just wiggles and wiggles the behind.

  • Tailwagger

    My yorkie does this too. It means he is super excited.

  • ronald1216

    it means his verry happy

  • FreSpch

    Purrfect description but what about the cat?

  • Jim M.

    Um, really, they tell you to run from a dog baring its teeth. All running is going to do is kick in the chase/attack instinct. You aren’t going to outrun the dog. You back away slowly and avoid direct eye contact – which can be seen as a threat to the dog

  • guest

    If your dog bares his teeth at you (especially as a pup), & you run (as the article advises): you just teach him that aggression toward you is acceptable & that he’s the boss, you will never have real control, & someone will get hurt someday. VERY bad advice.

  • Chris Kempster

    Yep, my shitsu-maltese’s go all stiff, tail stops wagging and holds a strong single position up and curled being “on alert”. But wont go down to its legs unless there is an immediate threat.