When it comes to expressing mood, body language plays a major role in the canine universe. A simple glance at a dog's tail can indicate so much about what he's currently feeling. A tucked tail, for instance, usually is a sign of a pooch who isn't exactly too confident at the moment.
If your cutie's tail is tucked between his legs, a case of fright could be the culprit. If you're dogsitting your closest bud's dog, your pet's reaction of tucking his tail could mean that he feels powerless and intensely worried about the newbie's presence. Dogs who feel like subordinates frequently display this type of submissive behavior. In a way, it's their method of pleading, "Please leave me be. I'm no big guy."
In tucking his tail away, your dog also might be showing signs of unease due to suffering from strong physical pain, whether from a medical ailment or injury. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately if you think this could be the case.
A dog might also tuck his tail to show that he wants to be left alone, perhaps because of defensiveness. If a dog combines tail tucking with body language clues, such as raised hairs and paws in front of his chest area, be wise and keep away from him. Be safe and never go close to any dog if you think that he might be in an aggressive or defensive mode. Remember, dogs who are scared often quickly become defensive -- a means of looking after themselves in the face of hazards.
Anxiety can also cause a dog to tuck his tail beneath his body. If something is making your dog feel unsettled and frustrated, his tail might show it by staying close to his body. Major changes in lifestyle can often cause dogs to feel vulnerable and nervous -- think the introduction of an infant into the home. Dogs thrive on stability and routine, and unfamiliarity and uncertainty aren't always easy things for them to handle.
Tail tucking doesn't always signify a pet with a problem. If a wee puppy tucks his tail upon encountering mature dogs, it might just be how he displays admiration and esteem for his elders.
Degree of Emotion
Note, too, that the deeper the tucking of the tail, the more intense the emotion going through your dog is. If the tail is so far tucked that it's touching his belly, his feelings are running high.
- Toledo Area Humane Society: Fearful Dog
- American Animal Hospital Association Healthy Pet: Tail Problems
- American Kennel Club Kids' Corner: Why Do Dogs Have Tails?
- Vetstreet: Decipher What Your Dog is Saying With His Tail
- Sequim Dog Park: A Handbook of Useful Tips for Dog Park Owners
- The Humane Society of the United States: Submissive Urination
- Dogspeak; Matthew Hoffman
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images