It is well known that our canine friends use their tail as a means of communication, between humans and of course other dogs.
Meeting and Greeting.
When we see our pet wagging their tail, we automatically assume it is a sign of happiness or they are a friendly dog, however this isn't always the case. Depending on the motion of the tail, it could mean a range of things, fear, anxiety or a warning to stay away.
Through studying an animal over a long period of time, you really get to know and understand their body language, and realise how important their tail is as a form of communication. Most pet owners who spend a lot of time with their pet, will know before anyone else the mood their pet is in.
How low or high the tail stands at the time and the motion is a clear way of judging that dogs emotion. A tail that is standing straight up is a sign of dominance and should really not be approached at this time, as the tail starts to lower to a mid way range, this can be a sign of an alert and attentive dog. When the tail lowers again but is more relaxed and wagging, this is associated with happiness, when it reaches its lowest level this is a sign that the dog is becoming submissive. If the tail is tucked underneath the body between the legs, this is often a sign of fear and the dog is usually trying to protect itself.
For dogs that have had their tail docked due to cosmetic or medical reasons, they will often find it more difficult to communicate their emotion to another dog, and can sometimes lead to dog fights or tension among other dogs. However, these dogs often find other ways of expression through tensing their muscles, eye and ear movement and raising the hair on the back of the neck.
Pals once more.
Here are some steps on how to approach a dog:
Do not approach the dog head-on. The dogs first reaction will be fear and may show aggression.
Do not make direct eye contact with the dog.
Use a calm, quiet voice to try settle the dog.
Let the dog approach you first.
Pet them gently, do not pull at their hair or prod them.
Remember: Common sense should always be used when approaching a dog you don't know or aren't familiar with.