Why Does a Dog Wag Its Tail?
The original purpose of the dog’s tail was for balance. It prevents him from toppling over as he makes sharp turns while running or swimming. The tail also balances him when walking along narrow structures, climbing or leaping.
Over time, the tail adapted itself to playing a vital role in communication, particularly when a dog is just walking or standing around.
Tail wagging is one of the ways that a dog “talks.” You know that a dog is happy when it wags its tail at you. Dogs also use tail wags to give messages to other dogs.
An uplifted, slowly wagging tail means, “I’m the boss around here!” A kind of wag with the tail held low means, “Okay, you’re the boss!”
A tail curled between the legs means, “I give up! Don’t hurt me!” Dogs also wag their tails to spread their natural scent from their anal glands. Each dog has a scent that’s unique to him or her.
Dogs communicate in still other ways. They bark, growl, howl, and whine. They lift a paw, or bare their teeth. All these sounds and actions have special meanings to dogs.
Dogs wag their tails for other dogs, humans, and other animals like cats. But research shows that dogs don’t wag their tails when they are alone because there is no need.
Just as humans use smiles and body language as social cues in different situations, our canine friends do the same.