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What Your Dog's Tail Can Tell You

Updated: Jan 21


There are all kinds of dogs out there in the world. And there are all kinds of doggy tails. There are short tails and long tails, bushy tails and skinny tails, curly tails and straight tails and every tail has a tale to tell. But dogs do not just have tails to tell you they are excited to chase a ball. The tail serves important functions that helps your dog through his daily life. So let's take a look at this wonderful symbol of canine joy.


The most obvious function of the tail is communication. You know exactly what your dog is thinking when you come home and you see him waiting for you at the door with a wagging tail. The tail is a way to express their joy and excitement. But a wagging tail could also mean an angry dog trying to assert his dominance. The tail helps to spread his scent around; announcing his presence to the canine world. A tail tucked between the legs is a sign of fear or submission. By keeping the tail lowered, their scent does not spread as much and letting them keep attention away from themselves. The wagging tail is also a learned behavior. A puppy only starts to wag his tail when he starts to play and communicate with other dogs.


The tail is also the best tool for an active dog. When running fast, it is used to help the dog turn quickly and elegantly without crashing. For those water-loving pups it's a helpful rudder while swimming. The dog who finds themself at home in the snow can use it to shield their nose from the cold, and for the climbers it provides balance on uneven surfaces.


Since your dog's tail plays such an important role, it is important to take care of it. Injuries can easily happen during playing and fighting. The tail is made out of muscle and bone which extends from the spine. Fractures can happen during rough play or accidents like getting hit by a car. If the fracture is bad, the tail may need to be amputated. If the tail can be saved, it may have a bump in the area where it had been broken caled a hematoma. This area can be very sensitive. Tails which are pulled can suffer nerve damage and abrasions which could lead to excessive bleeding and skin loss. Should any of these occur, take your dog to the vet immediately. To avoid these kinds of issues, keep sharp and heavy objects out of reach of their wagging tails, watch out where you are stepping if your dog is lying or sleeping nearby and try not to let them outside unattended.


Remember, a happy tail means a happy dog and these loyal creatures deserve all the joy that we can give. Take care of those wagging tails.

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