Dogs use their tails to communicate their emotional state

Not just happy or excited, dogs use their tails to communicate complex emotions. This leads to dogs recognizing emotional states in other dogs similar to the way humans recognize facial features for emotional queues.

  • Lowered tail: A lowered tail or a tail tucked between the legs indicates submissiveness, fear, and anxiety. The aim of the dog is to appear smaller to threats such as new dogs or people.
  • A tail raised high: Displays confidence or a dog’s intention to positively approach another dog or human.
  • A stiff vertical tail: This conveys anxiety or a potential threat.
  • A tail wagging from side to side: Indicates friendliness and excitability.

Is this a way for dogs to empathize with each other?


Science suggests reducing a dog’s tail wagging to a mere sign of happiness is an oversimplification of the way dogs use their tail to express highly complex emotions.