If you’re in the process of analyzing your dog’s body language then this article is exactly what you’re looking for, dogs are extremely intelligent and sensitive creatures which is why any change in their body movements usually signals something quite significant.
Different movements can speak volumes about an animal’s emotional state or their intentions and are an important indicator of its social standing as well.
Tail Tucked, What does it mean?
Typically, if a dog’s tail is completely tucked between its legs it means that the dog is feeling afraid or even terrified, that is why this type of action is extremely common when said dog is in the proximity of either a more dominant canine or an assertive human being.
If your dog tucks its tail when you reprimand it for a faulty action such as peeing in the house or chewing at your belongings then it means the dog recognizes you as dominant and is acting submissive.
Another sign of submissiveness is tucking the tail when the dog is in a vulnerable position such as rolled over on its back, this is an indicator of trust too.
However, there are levels of a tucked tail and each degree means something a bit different. If the dog’s tail is just below the topline then chances are your buddy isn’t scared, it’s just feeling a bit unsure.
Significance of the Dogs Breed and Tail Tucking
It is essential to consider the breed of the dog when trying to comprehend the meaning of its body language, for instance in smaller dog breeds such as terriers this type of body language is not as consistently present as it is in other breeds.
If the breeds relaxed tail motion is curled over the body such as that of a Siberian Husky, then even an unfurled tail can signify uncertainty, stress, and fear.
Furthermore, the context of the situation and the personality, as well as tail carriage of the individual dog, is equally significant.
It is possible your dog simply does not tuck its tail in when it’s frightened.
The Most Common Reason is Stress
Here are a few hints that can mean that your dog is feeling a bit stressed out.
Although yawning in dogs is typically related to boredom or tiredness, it can also be an indicator of stress along with licking excessively, usually a stressful yawn is more intense and comparatively longer than a regular yawn.
Canines can be extremely vocal when it comes to expressing their feelings, a tense and stressed-out pup may bark and/or whine to soothe itself or grasp your attention.
One of the most common signs of stress in canines is pacing back and forth or even walking in a constant path around a room which is surprisingly a lot like humans.
Dogs will pant when they are stressed, excited, or hot so depending on the context of the situation, excessive panting can be a sign of stress and anxiety.
Not as common as other behaviors but certain canines tend to hide behind objects or their owners, even pushing them to convey the fact that they are feeling uncomfortable and would like to avoid or exit the situation.
Many dogs tend to become constipated due to stress and some dogs can even suddenly start relieving themselves inside your house despite being housebroken.
Interpretations of Other Tail Actions
Tucked tails are not the only significant indicators in a dog’s tail carriage language, here are the many others.
If your dog generally carries its tail horizontal but not stiff then it’s trying to tell you that they are on guard and paying very close attention to whatever is happening in their environment.
A stiff tail pointing away from the dog’s body in a straight-out position is typical when a dog is meeting someone new or sensing an intruder, they are on guard and very cautious.
A dog that is feeling confident and dominant in its surroundings will typically have a tail that is held almost vertically or is vertically held but slightly curved at the top, this is also a representation of a dog that is trying to assert its dominance.
Relaxation is signaled by a tail that is held lower than a horizontal form but still relatively far from the legs, this is a positive sign.
Aggression has many types of tail carriage, the most common being a tail with a sharp bend that is carried high or bristling hair.
The most common and easily interpreted tail language is a tail-wagging from side to side, a broad tail wag means the dog is trying to tell you that he likes you while a slow one can mean that it is slightly confused. A fast tail wag generally means your dog is content, happy and excited.
Common Causes of Stress in Dogs
Although your dog may be stressed out because of something completely unique to your situation, one of these basic reasons is likely the root cause.
Due to their sharp sense of hearing, dogs are very sensitive to sounds so loud noises such as fireworks, constant car horns, or thunder can startle and frighten them.
Just as humans feel stressed out after entering an unknown environment, dogs tend to feel the same way and that is why canines appear extremely tense when moving houses or being rehomed. What you would think is your dog acting out, by doing acts like peeing, pooping, or vomiting in the home might just be a sign of stress and anxiety.
Separation anxiety is quite prevalent in dogs because these intelligent creatures are very social and therefore need companionship, too much time alone can cause dogs to become lonely, anxious, stressed, and scared.
If you have been leaving your pup alone for extended periods due to any reason, such as a new job, the birth of a baby, traveling or so on, then that’s most likely why your pup is feeling stressed all of a sudden.
It is also proven that many canines whose owners have high-stress levels exhibited high-stress levels themselves as well, so it’s possible your dog isn’t stressed due to a physical change in its environment but it is only reacting to a change in you.
Side Effects of Stress on your Dogs Health
If your dog has been stressed for a long time then chances are you have started seeing small changes in its behavior and health that could lead to significant problems in the future.
Stress tends to cause a loss of appetite and due to this, a long-term side effect of constant stress and anxiety is weight loss. Some dogs may even start chewing at and licking non-edible objects to the point where it can become dangerous.
Although not commonly known information but prolonged stress can lead to a significantly weakened immune system, this occurs because the body releases cortisol as a response to the stress your dog feels, and a long-term increase in this hormone becomes problematic for the body of a canine. Due to its suppressed immune system, the dog will find it difficult to fight disease and infection in the future which can be deadly, and for canines already suffering from an ailment, constant stress and anxiety will slow down the healing process.
Another hormone released when the brain senses stress is adrenaline, another fight-or-flight hormone like cortisol, this is essential to deal with imminent threats however constant release of adrenaline can result in stress-induced diarrhea.
How to Deal with a Stressed Canine?
If you are confirm that your dog is stressed out or feeling tense then the best course of action is to first identify the stressor and then remove it or the dog from the environment.
Find a quiet room for your dog to calm down in and try not to comfort it extensively as this will verify and reinforce its fears, therefore making the pup less confident and more fearful of situations in the future.
Other ways to calm an anxious pup is taking them out for a walk or doing any strenuous exercise, this releases helpful endorphins that can calm them down, much like in humans.
Treatment by the use of music has proven to be beneficial in many cases as well, music may successfully relax your pup when you’re away or they are in a stressful situation.
Music can also block sounds that may be the reason for your pet’s stress such as thunder, car horns, or fireworks, in fact, studies show that many dogs are calmed by classical music.
In the long term as a precaution, it is useful to introduce your dog to new people even if they’re not very receptive to the idea. Many dogs prefer not to meet new individuals and this could be because of reasons such as abuse from former owners or acting territorial; however, it is only for their own good because if you ever leave them in the care of someone else due to an emergency, your pup would feel more comfortable and generally less stressed.