A brown dog standing on a log in the woods, awaiting its vet consult.

What Does a Dog Wagging His Tail Mean: Fist Bump? 


Recent Blog:

Most of us think we know the answer to this seemingly simple question – but what does a dog wagging his tail mean, really… Is he happy, anxious, excited? A combo of them all? Or something else? This tail wagging business can actually be confusing.

To put it simply, it can be a ‘yes’ to any of the above depending on the situation. But it’s also so much more. And what many of us dog lovers don’t know are the deeper meanings of tail wagging.

Why are dogs bad at poker?

Because they wag their tails whenever they have a good hand.

At PD Insurance we make it our business to understand how pets feel so we’ve delved deeper… Find out in the article below what your dog’s wagging tail means. But first, check out this video of a dog who’s making tail wagging music:

A dog says so much with its wagging tail

When uncovering the answer to “what does a dog wagging his tail mean” know this… It’s not just the wag of a tail, but also the direction and the speed at which it wags that tells us how Bella or Rover is feeling.

If you think about it, this makes so much sense. It’s similar to how a person’s tone or posture tells us how they’re feeling. Things their words alone might not say. If your friend says they’re doing “great” but their shoulders are slumped, you’ll know they likely need a friendly ear, for example.

Dogs are just as expressive. Only, they say it with their tails! Dogs are incredible communicators, which is why we’ve written a guide on how to speak dog.

dog is wagging his tail to the right for his owner, who's wondering what does a dog wagging his tail mean

Direction and speed of the wagging tail

According to research shared by BBC Science Focus, the direction and speed of a dog’s wagging tail carry important emotional information. When you’re trying to decipher it, consider who the dog is wagging their tail at, in what direction and how fast.

The direction a dog wags their tail shows whether they’d like to approach or back away from whoever they’re facing. Here are some examples:

WhoWhat directionWhat it means
Owner Tail wags to the rightWants to approach
A dog with aggressive body language Tail wags to the left Wants to back away

As you can see a happy wag is to the right, whereas an anxious one is to the left. Unsurprisingly, the research also shows dogs not only wag to the right but also faster for their beloved owners. A friendly stranger might get a medium right wag, whereas a friendly cat is likely to get a low-level right wag.

So next time you’re wondering what does a dog wagging his tail mean, you’ll know the answer. But wait, there’s more…

Heads or tails?

tail wagging dog is happy but a bit anxious too

When it comes to the question of heads or tails, the right answer is both. Because it’s not just the direction the dog wags his tail that shows feeling, but the angle of his head too.

Studies show a dog will turn its head to the right when facing a friendly dog and to the left when facing a potential aggressor. Maybe if we all knew this, we’d be able to head off dog aggression more easily. Read how to prevent ‘dog bites dog’ situations before they happen.

Check out the PD Insurance Pet Care vlog where Dr Cath Watson shares more reasons dog wags their tails:

A wagging tail for pet insurance

Did you also know a dog can sprain their tail from too much tail wagging!? That’s a potential situation that may require an unexpected visit to the vet. If you have a dog insurance plan, you’ll be happy to know this type of vet visit is covered.

You might be surprised to discover that with PD Insurance you’ll also get one or more months of FREE pet insurance when you buy online. Is your inner-tail wagging? We sure hope so! Click below to find out more.

Share on :