Dogs Talk with Their Tails - But Can We Understand?One of the biggest misconceptions that we hear about dog body language is that “ the dog must be happy, he is wagging his tail”. In actuality a wagging tail is one of least reliable indicators about how a dog is feeling. There are many different types of wag and there is only one type that indicates a safe dog for children to pet. Let’s start with that one!
The Calm Wag
Watch this video to see the difference between a high, stiff wag (as discussed below) and a calm wag. Notice that the white dog holds his tail very high and stiff while he is meeting and sizing up the other dogs, but when he interacts with the child he holds his tail lower and wags loosely. This is an excellent demonstration of what we mean by loose versus stiff. The dog is loose with the child and stiff with the other dogs. His interaction with child is entirely appropriate and this is the type of wag we want to see in all dogs who interact with children. If you don’t see this, then intervene and redirect the dog and child to other activities.