We tend to interpret our dogs’ tails in one of two ways:
1. Wagging = happy
2. Down/between the legs = sad
There’s a lot more meaning hiding on our dogs’ butts than you might think. Sometimes, there’s an entire conversation happening back there.
We’re used to the furiously fast wagging tail, but some emotional indicators are pretty subtle. Scientists in Italy found that the direction of the wag tells a lot about your dog’s mood.
Dogs swing their tails to the right when they are happy or excited. A shift to the left indicates that all is not well.
These movements are often very slight and difficult for us hoomans to perceive. Dogs, however, are pretty keen on picking up “tail speak.” Even if we don’t hear the butt conversation, dogs totally do.
The speed of the wag is important, too. Psychology Today reports that a dog’s tail will move vigourously to the right when they see someone they know, but they wag more slowly when they see someone unfamiliar.
Most tail speak is easy to decipher, if you know the language. Here’s a quick primer:
1. “Don’t even try it, dawg. I’m the boss here.”
2. “Really, don’t try it. I will bite your face off.”
3. “Look at me waggin’ my tail! Look at MEEEEEE!!! I am awesome!!”
5. “Hey you, mailman! I don’t like these weird, suspicious packages you bring to my house. I’m going to growl at you until you go away.”
6. “Leave me alone, I’m chowing down on some noms right now.”
7. “I will be good! I promise! I’m so sorry I stole that chicken off of your plate!”
8. “Trying to decide if I should hide behind my mom or tap into the warrior wolf inside and go to battle.”
9. “I’m not even going to pretend that I’m the High Dog In Charge here.”
10. “Dude, I already said that you’re the boss. Do I need to say it louder?”
11. “If that’s what it takes, I’ll just completely bow my tail before you, almighty HDIC.”
Now you know the language of your dog’s butt. Pretty cool, right?