Tail Talk | What Your Pet is Telling You

While our pets cannot talk, they can communicate a lot through their body language. A dog or cat’s tail is an especially important tool to convey how they are feeling. By paying attention to your furry friend’s tail, you can easily tell whether they’re up for playing and meeting new people or instead need some space or reassurance. Read more below and click here for a printable version of our infographic.

Cat Tail Language

  • Upright Tail: Your cat is feeling confident, alert, and friendly. If the tip of their tail twitches when it is straight up in the air, your feline is feeling particularly happy.
  • Swishing Slowly: If your cat is moving their tail slowly from side to side, it means he is focused on an object such as a toy. They’ll likely pounce on that item!
  • Whipping Tail: A cat that is whipping their tail back and forth is agitated. You should consider this a warning to stay away.
  • Puffy Tail: Cats puff up their tails when they are afraid. By raising their fur, they are making themselves look bigger to scare off whatever is making them fearful.
  • Pulled Close: Another indicator of fear is when a cat pulls their tail closely into their body or wraps it around their feet.

Dog Tail Language

  • Wagging Loosely: When a dog is wagging their tail loosely from side to side or in a circular motion, they are relaxed, friendly, and happy. The tail is typically held in a neutral position.
  • Straight Out: If a dog is holding their tail horizontally behind them, they are attentive and curious. Hunting breeds also hold their tails this way when they are pointing out an animal or object.
  • Vertical Wag: If your dog’s tail is straight up with quick, small wags, your dog is alert and may be feeling aggressive or threatened. Give them space, especially if this type of wagging is paired with raised fur on their back and/or tail, staring, growling, lunging, or barking.
  • Tucked Tail: Your dog is afraid. Tucking the tail is one of the ways dogs try to make themselves smaller when they feel threatened.

It is extremely important not to ignore what your pet is trying to tell you through his tail or other body language. Never punish your pet for giving warning signs that they are agitated or afraid. Paying close attention to their communication methods like tail language and growling is essential to preventing animal bites!
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