There’s nothing sweeter than our canine companion, happily approaching us when we arrive home, with their tails wagging like there’s no tomorrow. But did you know that wagging tails on dogs may mean different things depending on the scenario? So what does a dog wagging its tail mean in relation to how the dog is feeling?

A dog’s tail is one of our canine companions’ best communication tools. It’s a form of body language — one that they use to show how they feel to other animals and to us, their humans. While our dogs welcoming us with waggy tails when we arrive expresses happiness, they may be conveying something else in other scenarios.

The dog tail signs, such as the position, movement, and direction of the tail wagging, are things to note in order to determine how a dog is feeling. The same goes for other movements and positions of a dog’s tail.

Let us get to know more about dog tail meanings below.

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  1. What Does It Mean When a Dog Tail Is Up
  2. Why Is My Dog Tail Down
  3. Dog Wagging Tail in Sleep
  4. FAQs
  5. Conclusion

What Does It Mean When a Dog Tail Is Up

Before deciding what a dog’s tail is telling us, it is important to be aware of a dog's tail’s neutral position as well as the nuances of a dog's tail’s natural position (which may vary depending on a dog’s breed).

Generally, dogs that are relaxed have tails that hang down along their heels. However, certain breeds may show variation. For instance, beagles have tails that are more vertically directed; greyhounds tend to naturally curl their tails below their tummies; and pugs have tails that tightly coil without wagging.

Meanwhile, here are indications of when a dog’s tail is up:

Tail Position

  • They’re preparing themselves

If your dog’s tail and ears are up, it may indicate alertness, and they are carefully watching what is happening.

  • They’re negotiating

If a dog is wagging their tail, then it freezes, which could mean that they want to assess a threat without getting aggressive. This is common when a stranger suddenly petrifies a dog.

  • A sign of aggression

A dog’s tail that goes straight up after being in a neutral position may indicate aggression. The bigger the threat, the higher their tail goes. This position also emits more scent from the dog’s anal glands, making their presence known.

  • Curiosity

When something piques a dog’s interest, their tails may raise straight up, horizontally.

  • A happy dog

What is a happy tail in dogs? A tail in a neutral or loosely raised position, followed by wagging, may indicate a happy dog.

Read more: 5 Сommon Questions About Dog Tails

Wagging Speed

The speed rate mat adds more meaning to the tail-wagging

  • Friendliness

When a dog is friendly, they may wag their tail in a free and relaxed manner and may even wiggle their hips.

  • Insecurity

An insecure dog may slightly wag their tail to show their reservations about meeting new pets or people.

  • Aggression

Very fast wagging in a vertical position may indicate that a dog feels very threatened. This may lead to aggression, so you better watch out.

  • Excitement

On the other hand, fast wagging may also indicate an excited dog. The wagging may range from slow to very fast (also known as flagging).


The direction of a dog's tail is equally significant. According to a 2013 study published in Current Biology, the direction of the tail wag suggests a link to the dog’s mood. Dogs wagging their tails to the right appeared more happy or relaxed, while dogs that wagged their tails to the left appeared more anxious, alert, or stressed.

Keeping tabs on how your dog behaves as well as other signs that may indicate how they’re feeling (such as their tail’s position) may help you understand them better and be able to detect early signs of problems. Having a good pet camera, such as the Petcube Cam 360, would make it easier for you to do so. With Petcube Cam 360, you get to monitor your pet as they go up, down, and all around the room, especially when you’re away. With features including 1080p full HD video, 360-degree panoramic view, and 8x zoom for details, you won’t miss a thing.

Why Is My Dog Tail Down

If your dog has their tail down after being in a neutral position, this may indicate submission or anxiety. Meanwhile, if your dog has their tail tucked between their hind legs, this shows fear and maybe pleading not to be harmed. When their tails are in this low position, the scent released from their anal glands is reduced, allowing them to keep themselves in the background. Note that it is also important to consider other factors when observing your dog’s body language.

It is also important to note that if a dog’s tail is down, it may also point to physical issues such as:

Some tail injuries may be severe, and need emergency care. And because our dogs may be susceptible to pet emergencies, it would be helpful for us pet parents to take measures to prepare. One way for us to do so is to make sure that we have a financial net for unexpected situations involving our pet(s). The Pet Emergency Fund by Petcube offers all that and more.

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Read more: Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Dog Wagging Tail in Sleep

Like humans, studies show that other animals (including dogs) also experience multiple sleep cycles. During REM sleep, it is believed by experts that a dog may experience vivid dreams, which can cause movements in the body, hence the possible tail-wagging.

In fact, according to Dr. Barrett, a Harvard psychologist, dogs have a tendency to dream about things that are familiar, such as their humans and the places they go to. So if a dog wags their tail in their sleep, it’s possible that they’re dreaming about you!

Monitoring your pet for signs may help you keep track of their behavior and be able to detect if there are issues that need to be addressed. The Petcube Cam is a good way to monitor your pet, even when you’re away or sleeping. But what can the camera see at night, you ask? One of the many useful features of the Petcube Cam is its crystal-clear night vision feature. That way, you won’t have a problem detecting anything out of the ordinary, even if it’s already dark.


Why does my dog wag his tail when he sees me?

Oftentimes, this means that your dog is feeling very excited to see you, their human, especially when you’ve been out all day.

What does a dog tail wagging in circles mean?

When your dog is ecstatic, they may wag their tail in circles, or what is also known as the “helicopter wag." For example, a dog may exhibit this when their human comes home when they know that it’s time for a walk, or when they are excited to play.

What does it mean when a dog's ears are back and their tail is wagging?

This depends on other body language cues. If their ears are pulled back in a relaxed manner while their tail is wagging, this shows positive emotions. However, if they are exhibiting flat ears or if they are pinned back while their tail is up, this may indicate that they are feeling fearful or threatened.


Dog tails may say a lot about what your dog is feeling. While it’s common to observe a dog’s tail wagging to indicate happiness when they see their owners, tail wagging in dogs may also have other meanings. Along with other body language cues, observing your dog’s tail in various situations may help you better understand how they are feeling.

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