Have you ever looked at your dog and thought, “Why do you have a tail?” You aren’t alone. You may think they are there to make your dog exceptionally cute, but tails are actually crucial to a dogs physique for several reasons. Read on to find out why.
One of the main purposes of a dog’s tail is to assist with balance. A running dog with quickly throw themselves in the direction they want to go with the front part of their body. The back of their body will bend as well, but because they’re moving so fast, their back will continue in the original direction. Without a tail, the movement can cause the pup to fall over. By their tail moving in the same direction as the front of the body, it acts as a counterweight.
It also helps dogs with walking along narrow surfaces. By swinging the tail back and forth, it helps the body maintain balance.
A dogs tail is a very visible feature and acts as a communication tool to communicate their emotional state. How high they carry their tail, how quickly they move it, and whether it wags more to the left or right can convey how they are feeling, their mood, or their intentions.
Dogs with short tails – either due to the nature of the breed or to docking – sometimes have trouble communicating as well as other dogs would.
Whenever your dog moves their tail, it releases a unique scent around them. These smells – known as pheromones – help communicate information between animals. Some pheromones are located in the anal glands located under the tail. They contain a smelly liquid are just as unique as a human’s fingerprints.
A dominant dog that carries their tail high will release a stronger scent than one that is less-dominant.
It might come as a surprise, but puppies do not wag their tail. They don’t typically wag their tail until they are about 30 days old and fully established behavior doesn’t occur until around 49 days of age.
Puppies don’t begin until that age because they use tail wagging as a form of social communication. For the first few weeks of age, puppies don’t need to socially communicate as they are mostly eating and sleeping. Though they are capable of tail-wagging, they don’t necessarily need to.
By the time puppies are six to seven weeks old, their normal tail wagging behavior begins as they are socially interacting with each other. During this time, they learn the ins and outs of dog language through their mother and litter-mates. They learn they can use certain signals to show their intentions and avoid conflicts.
So, although a dog’s tail certainly adds to their cute factor, they also serve a purpose. They help with balance, communication, and emotional signals. Next time your pup is playing with a friend, watch their tails to see how they’re really feeling!
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