Home Blog What Does It Mean When A Dog’s Tail Is Down (The Funny Truth)

What Does It Mean When A Dog’s Tail Is Down (The Funny Truth)

What Does It Mean When A Dog’s Tail Is Down (The Funny Truth)

Dogs are wonderful at communicating their needs to us. Their body language can signal when they are feeling tired or stressed. The movement of their tail can often indicate whether they are happy or sad, excited, or frightened. A dog’s bark can also signal how they are feeling. This helps us both to establish and maintain a connection with our furry friends. In order to decipher the body language from your dog, it’s important to understand what their tail position means.

What Your Dog’s Tail Is Telling You?

Your dog’s tail is telling you how they feel at the moment. A tail may tell you when your dogs feeling hungry or stressed or could let you know that they are uncomfortable with new people. It may let you know that they like one treat more than another, or that they respect you. Paying attention to whether your dog has a limber tail, the height, and how hard they are wagging their tail can tell you everything that your dog is feeling.

Tail Held High

If a dog’s tail is held high, that means that they are more alert than they are other times. This could be because they are stressed, anxious, happy, or simply mean that they are interested in something or someone. For example, a dog watching a car go down the road might perk their tail up because they are intensely watching the car. Likewise, a dog waiting for a treat might also have a higher tail position because they are more alert as they wait on you to dispense the treat.

Tail Held High And Wagging

A wagging tail usually means that a dog is anxious or happy. The fact that the tail is intentionally held high while wagging means that they are cautiously happy. This is also a sign that they are asserting dominance.

To determine if your dog is asserting dominance, look at other behaviors. Dominant dogs have a higher rate of aggression regarding their toys and food than submissive dogs. This is viewed as them guarding their things. Dominant dogs will also guard their favorite things, such as a favorite rug in the house. Most of these dogs refuse to obey the commands of their owner and often misbehave in a show of defiance. This is an attempt to challenge the owner.

my dog is waggling his tail

Tail Held Still And High

If a dog tail is higher than usual and rather stiff, it will mean that the dog wants to show they are dominant. This position of the tail can also signal that the dog is extremely alert. For example, a dog might do this when they are preparing to pounce on a toy or a rabbit.

Other signs that a dog is alert include:

  • Ears perked up
  • Standing upright
  • Intense eyes
  • Tense body
  • Closed mouth

Dogs that are expressing dominance will display these same signs, but will also show the signs of dominance listed above.


When a dog feels confident about themselves, the tail wag will be slow and wide. They will keep their tall nice and tall, making sure it is seen. Check out this article for other signs of confidence that your dog might display, and for other body languages that you might need to know.

What Tail Down Means?

When a dog puts its tail between their legs, it can mean several different things. While most dog owners consider this position to be negative, it’s not always a bad thing if your dog puts their tail underneath them.


If a dog is scared, they are known to put their tail between their legs. This can be because they are scared of loud noise, a person, or several other things. Some dogs are naturally more skittish than other dogs, so you will see this tail position at different times with different dogs.


When a dog submits, they put their tail underneath their body. This is a wonderful thing for dog owners. It means that they trust you as their leader, and have a high level of respect for you. When a dog submits to their owner, the owner can trust that they will listen better, respect boundaries, and still protect them if need be. In addition to the dog protecting you, they trust you to protect them and care for them.


A dog might slightly tuck their tail in between their legs if they are unsure of a situation. This does not mean that they are fearful. Instead, it means that they are cautious. For example, this position can be seen when a dog goes to a new place, such as a new dog park. Dogs may do this with their tail when they are around new people, too. Even a new smell or new food can make a dog feel unsure.

This can also signal that a dog is unsure of themselves. When dogs do not have a healthy self-confidence, they communicate this through their tail. Dog’s may feel inferior to other dogs, not feel confident performing a new trick, or simply not feel the best about themselves at the moment.


When a dog puts its tail between their legs, it can be a sign that they are feeling stressed. New things or sudden changes can cause a dog to be stressed. Rescue dogs are prone to stress more than other dogs, so owners might see this tail position more than other positions.

What Your Dog’s Tail Is Telling You?

Dogs communicate with their tail in three ways: position, stiffness, and wagging. When a dog puts its tail between their legs while simultaneously wagging their tail, it is typically a sign of submission and happiness at the same time. For example, an owner might walk in the door and see their dog with their tail wagging and tucked. This is because they trust their owner, and are happy to see them. The type of tail wagging can tell an owner a great deal about how their dog is feeling.


When a dog has a high tail, it can indicate aggression. A slightly raised tail on a wagging dog is a strong indicator that they are happy. Lower positions mean that the dog is not a threat, and is feeling a bit more submissive or needs protection from you. Understanding the position of the tail will help you determine what a tail wag means.


The stiffness of a dog tail can say a great deal about how they are feeling as well. Stiffer tails are often held higher and represent the same emotions that a high-held tail does. These include anxiety, stress, dominance, and aggression. As a dog’s tail goes lower, it should become more relaxed. A happy dog will have a slightly stiff tail because they are excited. An utterly relaxed tail is usually seen when dogs lower their tail. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the tail the more relaxed or submissive the dog is unless they are displaying signs of fear or stress.

Wagging Tail

People often assume that when a dog wags tail, it means that they are happy, but this is not always the case. It may also indicate aggression or other feelings. Dog’s express every emotion through the way that they wag. First, observe the height and stiffness of the tail. Then, look at the wag.

Full Body Wag

This is typically seen when a dog’s feeling playful and excited. These dogs are not threatening and usually just want to play a game of catch. A dog that has an extremely limber tail is more likely to have a full-body wag versus a dog’s tail that is on the shorter or stiffer side.

Slow Wag

A dog will slowly wag tail when they are feeling hostile or threatened. It will not look like they have a limber tail. Instead, it will look like it is unnaturally stiff. Dogs may slowly wag their tail because they are nervous, anxious, stressed, hostile, or simply feel threatened. More submissive dogs usually have a slower wag. It is often advised not to approach a dog that is wagging its tail like this.

Side Matters

If a dog’s tail is off to the right, it is an indicator that they are feeling more relaxed. These dogs are more approachable than those that are not. If you notice that a dog’s tail is off to the left, it is a sign that they are anxious or feeling tense. Pay attention to whether the tail is on one side or the other to determine how your furry friend is feeling.

When a dog’s tail is down, it can mean several different things. It’s important to pay attention to whether their tail is stiff, wagging, and what body language your dog is displaying at the time. When you take a moment to consider all of these things, you’ll easily be able to tell how your dog is feeling with one simple glance.

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Hi, everyone! My name is Mathew Barham and I’m the editor in charge here at M-Dog. I’m currently based in Northampton, Pennsylvania, where I live with my beautiful wife, two amazing kids, and four rowdy rescue dogs. Growing up, my parents had a huge backyard and lots of animals. So my entire life, I was surrounded by pets that I cared for deeply. When my wife and I moved into a bigger place, I knew that I wanted to do the same for my family. That’s when we went to an animal shelter and fell in love with the most adorable little rescue pup. Since then, our family just kept growing, and we couldn’t be happier about it.