What Our Pets’ Tails Tell Us

By Jennifer Blevins, DivineCaroline

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m one of those people who may very well have an unhealthy obsession with trying to communicate with their dog too much. A large chunk of the time I spend with my miniature schnauzer, Earle, I’m baby talking, repeating new cutesy (and usually totally ridiculous) nicknames (Bubbers, Muffin Head, Little Turkey, etc.), and trying to figure out how he feels by carefully scrutinizing every wink of his eye and tilt of his head. Is he really feeling sad when he watches me leave the house? When he stares intently at me while I’m eating, does that mean he’s starving? And very often during these moments, I can’t help but think, If only he could tell me how he’s feeling.

Actually, animals do use body language to tell us how they’re feeling, and their tails happen to be one of the simplest indicators.

Dogs: Tail Posturing

Held High
When a person holds her head high, it usually means she’s feeling confident. The same goes for dogs. A dog whose tail is standing erect and high is assured and ready for what’s coming next, whether it be a walk through the park or a run down the beach. A tail that is high and curling at the end is an added show of his joyous mood.

Between the Legs
We’ve all heard the human expression “caught with his tail between his legs.” This saying, which is generally used to refer to someone caught telling a lie, has a bit of a different meaning in the canine world. A dog holding his tail between his legs is a clear expression of submission and sometimes even fear. If you’ve ever come home and found that Milo chewed your favorite heels to bits, you most likely yelled at him and carried out some (mild) form of punishment. When you did this, you probably noticed that Milo put his head down, lowered his eyes, and slowly walked away with his tail between his legs.

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.

Cats: Tail Posturing

Upright, Tip Curled
This tail posture is a show of ease and inquisitiveness. A cat with her tail held high with the tip curling is feeling friendly and interested. She will be easy to approach and most likely wants you to pay her some attention.

Held High
Again, a high tail is a sign of high spirits and confidence. If it has a bit of a quiver to it, it’s even better. A cat with this tail posture is most likely feeling very affectionate and will probably start rubbing against your leg to show you some love.

Still, but Twitching
A twitching tail is a clear sign of discomfort and anxiety for cats. If a cat is still but her tail is busy twitching, she is feeling some degree of irritation. This feline could be agitated about something, and that something could be you, so be on guard. The more intense the twitch, the more annoyed she is.

Swishing Vigorously
Unlike dogs, a cat’s vigorous swish of the tail conveys nothing but anger. If her tail is moving back and forth rapidly, she’s extremely mad, and likely getting ready to lash out. Stay back.

Arched and Puffed Up
If Smoky’s tail is bristling and either straight up or curved, she’s ready to attack; cats puff out their tails to appear larger and more imposing than they are. It’s a classic display of defensiveness. This cat feels threatened and is ready to do whatever it takes to fight back against her enemy.

Fully Lowered and/or Tucked Between Legs
A cat who has her tail tucked between her legs is feeling defeated. This tail posturing is a direct show of submissiveness to whatever higher authority is around (which may be you). It can also be a cue that she is not feeling well, so it’s important to note the other body language she’s displaying.

While the tail is one of the strongest signs of pets’ mood and behavior, it’s certainly not the only one. Animals may not be able to speak to us in the literal sense, but they can communicate through a series of bodily gestures, like tail posturing, and with their ears, their eyes, and, of course, their barks and meows. The best way to understand and communicate with your pet is to take all her body language into account. Gaining a better understanding of what your pet is trying to say will surely lead to a more harmonious relationship for both of you, one that will leave you grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Reading Your Cat’s Body Language
What Does Your Dog’s Growl Mean?
What Does Your Cat’s Purr Mean?


ER C4 years ago

good to know

Sabine I.
Past Member 4 years ago

aww cute!

Elena B.
Elena Bonati4 years ago

Article very interesting. Thanks.

Danielle Herie
Danielle Herie6 years ago


Rosi Caswell

Perhaps readers may be interested in The Communication link between Animals and Humans, known within the System of Animal Therapy as The Animal/Human Interlink. Hope this gives a little more in depth knowledge as to the simplicity of both talking to, and hearing our animals. Please forgive the length, and any “iffy bits”!! In Love and Peace to all. Rosi Caswell Animal Whisperer

Rosi Caswell

Moving further then, from the awareness of our own intuitive knowledge, let us now apply this to linking our mind with our animal’s mind.
This is not as difficult as it might at first seem. Animals “talk” and communicate with us in many different ways. Sometimes we “hear” what they say by just “feeling” that it is so; other times we may “see” a visual picture in our mind, or even at times actually hear them verbalise their thoughts or feelings.
However, you “hear” your animal, never deny that you have, for in whichever way this occurs, always believe the information which has been imparted to you, for it is there to be heard. Trust your intuition, then the mind-link will go from strength to strength. Mind-linking, in a nutshell therefore, is communicating on a different level, and in a different way, to our commonly accepted way of physical verbal, communication. Building on and with, our “Mind-linking”, leads to telepathic communication with animals, whereby an “Energy” conversation flows at will between ourselves and our animals. The success of telepathic communication depends on many factors. Both Animal and Human must be in the “right space” and on the “right wavelength” to communicate in this fashion, both “transmitting” and “receiving” appropriately, and empathetically. This takes much practice, and is the basis of The System of Animal Therapy, and The

Rosi Caswell

From this factor, you can therefore see that a range of problems on any given level can be heard and solved, from physical problems, right through to mental and emotional, which often manifest themselves in the form of extreme behavioural problems and phobias. Until you can “hear” an animal, you cannot have a full understanding of the problem, and therefore no real knowledge and awareness of the metaphysical cause. A very real fact that I always impart to people, as soon within their restructuring programme as possible, is the fact of animals having an “Energy Memory”, and therefore “Energy Memory triggers”. I have never yet met anyone who knew beforehand what this meant, but a small number of clients had an immediate grasp of the meaning and concept of such, and others very soon saw the real implications behind this factor. In brief, the term “Energy Memory” means that by the same token of the first form of communication between beings, taking place in the Energy body, ie the mind as opposed to the brain, an animal’s first reaction to a given situation, does therefore of necessity, also take place in the Energy body. The result of this “happening”, is an “Energy flashback” in essence, to an incidence of “yesterday”, which has been triggered by a happening occurring in the present time. The animal therefore reacts in the same way that he would have done at the time the past incidence occurred,

Rosi Caswell

which of course causes great consternation to the humans currently involved with the animal, as they assume the reaction is about “today”, when in fact it is of course to do with incidents which occurred “yesterday”. It is essential that the awareness of this factor is very much incorporated within the restructuring programme, and dealt with as it occurs, relaying always to the animal in question, that this “flashback” is in the past, and has no bearing on present or future life. The animal is therefore given the wherewithal to move on and release these old patterns. I usually, if possible, at the initial assessment give the human half of the partnership, a basic awareness of the possible, and probable, occurrence of these episodes, at some time within the ongoing journey with their animal friend. They are therefore prepared and equipped to deal with any such incidents. Humans also, do of course have “Energy Memory triggers”, but they are rarely acknowledged as such, as humans sadly operate primarily on a physical “logical” level, having “moved away” from the utilization of Energy awareness and communication; What often brings a wry smile to my lips is when I hear people commenting to each other, the “fact” of animals having qualities that “we humans” have lost. The wry smile is for the real fact that in all my years of research in the fields within which is contained my extensive work, I have fo

Rosi Caswell

When you have knowledge of the underlying cause of a problem, then a “reprogramming” structure can be set into place. Many times this takes the form of a “life training structure”, incorporating Balance on all levels, through the medium of The Animal/Human Interlink. Again it is about “Healing” the animal and its situation, by giving it the rebalancing structure it requires at that time. “Training” is often part of the new structure, and is not of course exclusive to Horses and Dogs, as many people believe. “Training” is about Balance, integration and co-operation between ourselves and our animals - even cats and other animals can, and need to, live in harmony and on “human terms”, both large and small “wild” animals included, as well as reptiles, birds and fish; in short, any living creature. The method of “Training” is to some extent irrelevant, for it is the principle and ethos of The System of Animal Therapy within a given method which achieves the result of complete Balance. Something I feel moved to mention here which I do not condone, and which I feel is totally unnecessary, and totally opposing of the communication of minds, is the number of “gadgets” used for “training”, in this day and age. These “gadgets” are for people who feel unable to gain co-operation and integration from their animal, so they take “short cuts” which neither reach the cause

Rosi Caswell

The uses of these “gadgets” are modern day methods of training through fear on one level or another, however it may be disguised. People who use these methods, perhaps ought to be looking at the reasons that they feel moved to use them, and their fear of communicating with their animal to reach the real problem issues. What is it they need to deal with inside themselves, in order to truly connect and link with their animal? Occasionally, (though rarely), there will be animals who do not, or will not, link with humans at a given time and space in their lives. There are many reasons for this; acknowledging, understanding, respecting their statement, and accepting their “Space” at that point in time is very much part of The System of Animal Therapy, and The Animal/Human Interlink.

A good trainer can hear a horse speak to him.
A great trainer can hear him whisper.

Acknowledgement to Monty Roberts, whose phraseology “join up”, would seem to be his interpretation of My Animal/Human Interlink, and the amazing link that he does indeed have, with our equine community.