Why Do Dogs Tuck Their Tails? 5 Common Reasons

No matter the breed, dogs utilize their ears, noses, eyes, mouths, and even their tails to communicate what they are feeling. Some dog breeds have what is referred to as a “gay tail,” in which their tails stay upright and often curl toward the back, typically when they are alert or engaged. But dogs can also tuck their tails for one reason or another. So, what are these reasons?

The 5 Reasons Dogs Tuck Their Tails
1. They’re Feeling Scared
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When a dog feels scared and/or threatened and they cannot figure out a way to defend themselves, they are likely to tuck their tail between their legs. This is their natural response that can be perceived by other animals that might be threatening the dog and humans who are observing them. When a dog tucks their tail due to fear, the tail typically hugs the belly of the body tightly.

2. They Are Being Submissive
Sometimes, a dog will tuck their tail between their legs when they are being submissive to their human companions. Instead of hugging tightly against the body like when they are feeling scared, the tail is likely to quickly wag back and forth between the legs and under the belly. They may also be in a state of vigilance or excitement and are not usually relaxed at the time.

3. They’re Feeling Stressed Out
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A dog might tuck their tail between their legs when they are feeling stressed out. The stress can be due to being left alone at home for too long, feeling anxious about a social situation that they are in, or feeling overwhelmed by a perceived problem that they are facing. Whatever the situation is, a tail tucked between the legs is a surefire sign that the dog should be taken to a quieter place.

4. They Are Experiencing Pain or Discomfort
When a dog feels ill, uncomfortable, or in pain of some kind, they may react by tucking their tail between their legs. They might even be afflicted by a problem called limber tail syndrome. Formally called acute caudal myopathy, this usually develops due to overuse of the tail. The overuse causes a severe strain on the tail’s muscles that results in a limp tail that may end up looking like it is tucked between the dog’s legs.

5. Their Tail Is Fractured
Image Credit: Lana Mamontova, Shutterstock
If your dog’s tail suddenly seems to always be tucked between your dog’s legs, it may be due to a fracture. If they fracture their tail, they may not have complete (if any) control over it, so it simply lies flat or tucks inward toward the belly. Sometimes but not always, a drooping tail problem caused by a fracture can be accompanied by other signs, such as whimpering, pacing, and a general display of discomfort.

Sometimes, a dog’s tail is tucked between their tail due to an injury or ailment, but most of the time, it’s due to a temporary situation that is making them feel stressed, scared, or submissive. If you are unsure of why your dog is tucking their tail between their legs, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian for insight and guidance. It might be necessary to schedule a checkup appointment.

Featured Image Credit: Isa KARAKUS, Pixabay

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