Myth #5 - "Tail-wagging means a dog is friendly!"

Real Estate Agent with North Texas Home Finders 0462649

sweetDon't count on it. Tail wags have lots of different meanings, some friendly and some not.

You have to look at the body posture of the animal and everything else it's doing. Is the dog growling or bearing its teeth? Is the fur standing up rigidly on its back?

How is the tail wagging? Stiffly, tucked and wagging, nice and flowing, is the whole body wagging? That all has to be taken into consideration.

Some signals to consider:

  • Relaxed, comfortable dogs generally have a gently wagging tail held horizontally or slightly lowered.
  • Confident dogs carry their tails up.
  • Dogs with their tails down may be stalking prey, feeling cautious or indicating friendliness and respect to the one they're greeting.
  • Together with a lowered head, direct stare, closed mouth, ears held back and eyes wide open, a lowered tail is a clear warning to back off.
  • A tucked tail indicates anxiety, avoidance or caution.

The biggest lesson is, never approach a strange dog unless you are sure that it is friendly. It's just safer that way!



For more information please contact Lara O'Keefe at 972.838.9156 or visit Hunter's Creek.

Comments (14)

Donald Wenner
Keller Williams Maplewood Mid-Town Direct - Florham Park, NJ

Ceasar Milan could not have said it better!


Mar 28, 2009 04:47 AM
Tim Monciref - Austin, TX
Over 2,000 homes sold…..

Thanks for the info.  Just went into the back property of a client who no longer lived in the home.  A stray Rottweiler came between me and the back of the house.  His tail was tucked in; so, I picked up a couple of large rocks for protection and walked slowly towards the house.  Apparently the tucked tail was because the dog must have been beaten in the past; as the dog saw me with the rocks and took off running with tail still tucked.  I was relieved, yet saddened.

Mar 28, 2009 04:59 AM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Lara, you have to approach a dog with caution I agree cause they don't know you.

Mar 28, 2009 05:01 AM
Winston Westbrook
Westbrook National Real Estate Co - Victorville, CA

Cool post Lara. I would of never thought of blogging about dog behavior. Good stuff to know. Thanks for posting  

Mar 28, 2009 05:20 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is a common myth.  I am glad that you have enlightened people regarding this.

Mar 28, 2009 05:22 AM
South Austin Real Estate Blog
Sky Realty South Austin - Austin, TX

Lara, thanks for letting everyone know about some dog safety tips.  I had the worlds most friendly dog but when I wasn't home, he was a guardian.  So I never ever trust any dog I do not know. People forget that a dog can be terriortial and protect his environment.

Mar 28, 2009 06:03 AM
Lara O'Keefe
North Texas Home Finders - McKinney, TX

Donald - thank you :-)

Tim - I understand your fear and your concern for the dog. Your safety has to come first.

Gary - I went to pet a Golden Retriever and got snapped at. Turns out it was mixed with Chow and quite aggressive. Who knew?

Winston - I stumbled across the info and thought I'd share it.

Joan - people get bitten by dogs all the time. You just have to be careful.

Gail - they can be very territorial. Excellent point!

Mar 28, 2009 06:30 AM
Tad Petersen / Home Inspector, Mpls
Safeguard Home Inspections, Inc. - Watertown, MN

Friendly or not, I ask that the dog be kenneled or placed in a separate room during my inspection.

Mar 28, 2009 08:55 AM
Cheryl Powell - The Powell Team
Southern Homes of The Carolinas - The Powell Team - Harrisburg, NC
Concord,Harrisburg & Charlotte NC Area Real Estate

Good information. I subscribe to being cautious with ALL animals....

Mar 28, 2009 01:59 PM
Joseph D. Federico
Donahue Real Estate Co. - Canton, MA
Eastern Massachusetts Real Estate

Lara-Thanks for the great info, and what a great idea for a post.

Mar 28, 2009 02:49 PM
Rita Minion
O'Brien Realty - Solomons, MD

Hello Lara,

Great post & information!  Thank you for sharing.



Mar 29, 2009 12:51 AM
Lara O'Keefe
North Texas Home Finders - McKinney, TX

Tad - that's just good business sense for you.

Cheryl - I agree. Better safe than sorry.

Joesph - thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Rita - thanks for stopping by.

Mar 29, 2009 06:21 AM
C. Bartch
Newark, OH

Morning Laura, I have encountered a few loose dogs when running or walking so thanks for the informative post. It can be frightening even though I'm a dog lover!

Mar 31, 2009 02:26 AM
Lara O'Keefe
North Texas Home Finders - McKinney, TX

Cynthia - just be cautious and don't always assume that they are friendly.

Mar 31, 2009 08:59 AM