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A Wagging Tail is NOT Always Friendly!

behavioral medicine

Behavior Bite:

If I never hear again, "but he was wagging his tail so he must've been happy," I'LL be happy! 

A wagging tail is NOT always friendly!

A stick-straight, up-held tail with a short amplitude, fast wag means watch out! That dog is agitated and potentially aggressive! In kindergarten bite prevention class I warn kids to watch for the tail that stands straight up between the ears of the dog with this wag (when the dog is staring at them) - it means he's not friendly right then.

A helicopter-wag is a very excited and happy dog (In my minds eye, I see a Lab in the backyard seeing his mom come outside).

A low tail set, short amplitude, slow wag is often on an apprehensive dog. Not all wags are equal!



About the Guide: Elizabeth S. M. Feltes, DVM, DACVB

 Dr. Feltes graduated with her veterinary medicine degree from The Ohio State University in 2006. In 2007, The Behavior Clinic opened as a mobile veterinary behavior service which grew to its existing 3000 sq. ft. facility. TBC services dog, cat, exotic pet, zoo and equine patients. In 2023, the Pet Education Center was opened as a TBC behavior therapy center for patients and public training services. Dr. Feltes has also developed and implemented a bite prevention program for the Olmsted Falls school system. She won the 2018 R.K. Anderson Resident Research Award for her publication focusing on aggression between housemate dogs and gained her status as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2020.


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