Dogs: A Wag by Any Other Name
Small, Slow Wags
A slow, sometimes jerky wag of the tail is a hint that the dog is feeling skeptical. He’s still considering the person, environment, or other dog in question, and he’s not quite sure what may happen or what may be expected of him. This type of wag is a distinct sign of feelings of uncertainty.
Large, Fast Wags
A tail that is wagging in large slow or fast sweeps can actually suggest excitement or agitation. The best way to read this tail is to take into account other body language. If Norton’s wags are accompanied by ears that are slightly pulled back, an open mouth, and squinty eyes, then you can probably bet that he’s a cheerful dog who is ready to show affection and play. Strong, happy wags also tend to involve more of the entire backside, rather than just the tail itself, so if his rear end is really swaying from side to side, you know he’s feeling good.
On the contrary, if the dog’s entire body weight appears to be pulled back while his tail is wagging, he may be apprehensive of whatever (or whoever) is approaching, and he could be literally withdrawing his body from the situation. An unhappy or aggressive dog will have more of an overall stiff form and an intense appearance and demeanor. He may also be giving you the “whale eye.” This is when a dog turns his head away and looks at you with the whites of his eyes showing.