People start out with their dogs imagining that it can’t be that hard to look into their minds. Dogs seem all tail-waggy when they’re happy, and they seem to growl when they are angry. How hard can it be to understand what’s going on? Well, in truth, dog psychology isn’t that easy; there is way more stuff going inside that head than merely “happy” or “sad”. Let’s take a closer look at how you could look at a dog’s tail wags and look into his moods.
To understand dog psychology better as we do during dog boarding, you need to understand that the tail wag happens to be a primary expression tool for the little critter. Dogs use that for all kinds of expression. It’s up to you to interpret those wags according to context. Dogs use tail wags the way people can use a smile to mean anything from joy, to cunning or ridicule. If you are looking at a dog wagging his tail, you want to look at more than just the tail to be able to interpret that wag. It is kind of the way how when a person smiles at you, you look at more than just the mouth to interpret it; you look at the eyes, the rest of the body and so on.
Looking at the whole dog and not just the tail wag lets you understand dog psychology a lot better. A wagging tail on a dog that’s leaning forward ever so slightly shows that the dog is willing to come close to you. It can mean enthusiasm. A wag together with a bit of backward lean would suggest that he would like to be left alone. A dog that seems to be quite stiff and tall demonstrates tension. He could be tense for aggressive reasons or not; you need to proceed with caution. A dog can wag his tail through all of these.
Dog psychology dictates that there are different kinds of wags to interpret. A dog that happens to be standing stiff and wagging his tail in a slow back-and-forth motion is a dog that doesn’t want to be approached. If you approach in spite of all the warnings he’s giving you, he’ll probably lunge at you.
The stiffer a dog’s tail is, the higher it goes. A stiff tail is usually an unfriendly sign – even if the tail happens to be wagging in any way.
A happy tail-wag is something you can recognize by a number of signs. Usually, a really happy dog will wag not just his tail but also his entire behind a little bit. The wags are usually in sweeps or in circles. The happy, friendly dog will have his ears pulled back, with his eyes squinting a little; and his body will be held a bit low.
Once you get to know a dog, it can be easy to interpret what he feels.