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Why Do Dogs Tuck Their Tails?

One of the most expressive parts of a dog’s body is their tail.

A wagging tail is a universal symbol of canine joy, but what about a tucked tail?

What does it mean when our furry friends tuck their tails between their legs?

1. Fear or Submissiveness

This is probably the most well-known reason. When a dog feels scared, threatened, or unsure, they tuck their tail close to their body, almost tucking it between their legs.

2. Anxiety or Stress

If a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they might also tuck their tail. This could be due to a new environment, a loud noise, or even something seemingly minor like a change in their routine.

3. Pain or Discomfort

In some cases, a tucked tail can also be a sign of pain or discomfort. This is especially true if the tail is held stiffly or the dog seems hesitant to move it.

4. Breed Differences

It’s important to remember that tail carriage varies between breeds. Some breeds, like Huskies, naturally carry their tails high, while others, like Greyhounds, often have their tails tucked under their bodies.

5. Submission

Dogs also tuck their tails when they feel submissive or deferential. This could be towards another dog, a person, or even a new environment.

Tail tucking during social interactions is a way for dogs to avoid conflict and maintain harmony, it’s a sign of deference and helps to prevent aggressive behavior.

Dr. Sarah Wooten, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of California

What to Do When Your Dog Tucks Their Tail?

Seeing your dog with a tucked tail can be heartbreaking, but it’s important not to overreact. The first step is to try to identify the cause of your dog’s fear or discomfort.

1. If your dog is scared

Provide comfort and reassurance. Speak in a calm voice, offer gentle petting, and remove them from the situation if possible.

2. If your dog is in pain

Take them to the vet to get checked out.

3. If your dog is unsure

Give them time to adjust to the new situation. Introduce them to new people or places gradually and offer plenty of positive reinforcement.

4. If your dog is overstimulated

Take a break from play or activity and give them a quiet space to relax.


So, the next time you see your furry friend with a tucked tail, take a moment to observe the bigger picture.

It’s not just a tail between the legs, it’s a window into their inner world, waiting for you to understand.


My dog tucks their tail all the time, even when they seem happy. Is this normal?

While a tucked tail often indicates fear or submission, some breeds naturally carry their tails lower.

Should I be worried if my dog suddenly started tucking his tail?

A sudden change in your dog’s tail behavior could be a sign of physical discomfort, pain, or even illness.

Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from tucking his tail?

Focus on creating a safe and comfortable environment for your dog, minimizing stress factors, and providing plenty of opportunities for positive interactions.

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