Reading a wagging tail

Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking?  I certainly wonder that, on a daily basis! I have learned a ton about basic dog behavior from my dog, Violet.  Violet gets picked up from our house most days for a few hours of play with Sam (a lovely and incredibly dog savvy human) and a number of other dogs—an awesome service offered by Dog’s Day Farm.  I was particularly intrigued when Sam sent me a video of Violet’s first meeting with a new dog to the group, Cherry (please see the first video at the bottom of the post).  She is not acting aggressively or doing anything wrong, but wow! Violet’s tail is straight up in the air, WAGGING though, her hackles are raised slightly, and she is standing face to face with the other dog.  From her body language, you can see that Violet is reacting slightly, and nervous about the new dog.  Once you’ve watched the video, now watch the second video—in this one, she is completely relaxed and just wants to play.  This has been a reminder to me that wagging tails are absolutely not always signs of friendliness, and it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s comfort level-you are your dog’s advocate, so if something makes them uncomfortable, it’s your job to work on helping them actually feel more comfortable in that situation, not necessarily to respond in a way that you expect.  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day! 

Written by Lisa Challberg, DVM, cVMA

 

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