Why Is My Dog Walking With Her Tail Sideways

Why Is My Dog Walking With Her Tail Sideways?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Dogs walking sideways could be caused by four different reasons. First, problems with the anal sacs. Second, Bitches will be eager and excited around other dogs when they are at the height of their “season”. Third, The tail of your dog may also be held out to the side as a result of an injury. Fourth, they’re feeling relaxed or because they’re feeling stressed and insecure.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Is My Dog Walking With Her Tail Sideways?“.

We cannot always tell what our dogs are going through or how they’re feeling at the moment. However they show their feelings through their body language. You can get a sense of what they are trying to tell you through their tails posture barking and facial expression if you pay attention to their body language.

Why Is My Dog Walking With Her Tail Sideways

One study even stated that there are 19 confirmed signals they use to communicate with us. Nonverbal body language varies from dog to dog but one method of understanding them is by checking their tail. The following information can help you determine if your dog is doing well.

But for the moment lets keep things simple and answer your initial question.

Why do dogs walk with their tails sideways? 4 Reasons

Dogs walking sideways could be caused by four different reasons

Anale Sacs

The anal sacs are located directly below your dogs anus. Every time your dog poops it releases a scent that is unique to each one of them.

Infected and impacted glands cause a lot of pain for a dog causing them to hold their tail in a different position as a result.

Female dog at height of the season

Those of you who have bred from your dogs before will be familiar with them.

Bitches will be eager and excited around other dogs when they are at the height of their “season”.

A part of her problem is that she walks up to other dogs with her tail out to the side in an unnatural position.

Tail physically injured

The tail of your dog may also be held out to the side as a result of an injury.

Since it is less painful to hold it out to the side than in its usual position it is being held there.

Tail injuries are caused by a variety of factors including:

  • There was a bit too much rough play in the play session
  • and your dog was injured as a result
  • his tail was trapped or caught in the door

You can find out if this is the case by performing a quick physical examination. If there are any cuts or strange angles (indicating that a bone within the tail has been fractured) schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Getting too close to your dogs tail should serve as a prompt to also call the vet.

Feeling good or bad

I will explain in more detail later on how a dogs tail is a sophisticated communication mechanism and if a dog raises its tail high and out to the right it is a sign of confidence.

In contrast if their tail is positioned much lower and to the left it is a sign of unease.

That should help you understand why your dog might be walking with its tail out to the side.

I will explore all the different ways in which dogs communicate with their tails in the next section.

How can dogs communicate with their tail?

In order to understand how they communicate with their tail we must first recognize their neutral or natural position since it differs between breeds. It’s always pertinent to consider the dog’s breed and individual character before interpreting it. 

Besides the dogs tail position you should also consider its speed and movement. Understanding these will give you a hint about their emotional state or what they are trying to express to you since it is often misconstrued. Seeing your dog wag his tail does not mean hes happy. Instead he could be free may instead feel uncomfortable.

Tail Position

  1. Position neutral or curled over their back – If a dogs tail is in its neutral position or if some breeds such as chow chows have their tail curled over their back it means they are relaxed or feeling confident. 
  2. Raising their ears and tails means they are on alert or agitated and ready to face whatever is troubling them.
  3. Your dog may not be wagging his tail because he is not interested in interacting. Strangers are the most likely to do this.
  4. If your dogs tail is held high and still it shows confidence or aggression. Generally the higher the tail of a dog the more aggressive he is and the more dominant he wants to appear.
  5. The dogs tail is pointing down – it may indicate that it is submissive and concerned.
  6. If your dog is tucked between the legs it means it is scared and does not want to get hurt.
  7. If your dog is holding his tail out straight or horizontally it means he is curious and somewhat neutral about the new information he is getting from the environment. 
  8. Waggling his tail to the right and slightly holding his tail high – This indicates that your dog is happy and feeling good. A recent study shows that when they feel positive about something their tails tend to wag to the right.
  9. Your dog is feeling uneasy or uncomfortable if his tail points down and his tail wags to the left.
  10. Your dog may be aggressive if its tail is held high and wagging very fast.

Tail wagging speed

  1. You can tell your dog is feeling excited by the way it holds its tail high and moves fast. When your dog wags its tail fast it is feeling excited. In the same way if it moves in a circle it is feeling excited.
  2. Generally speaking it means they are feeling happy.
  3. Moving slowly could be a sign that your dog is feeling unenthusiastic about whats going on or anxious.
  4. Strokes that are smaller indicate that your dog is becoming more uptight or anxious.
  5. If your dogs movements are rapid and shaky it may be afraid or feel tense.
  6. If your dog isnot wagging it may have an injured tail.

What does it mean if my dog’s tail is on one side?

His anal sacs need to be expressed or emptied as soon as possible so you should visit your veterinarian right away. As he might be feeling uncomfortable he may be carrying his tail to the side due to full anal glands. To provide some relief you can apply a warm compress on his anal region and take him to your veterinarian. 

What does it mean if my dog’s tail is between his legs and shaking?

The act of shaking could indicate fear or anxiety as I have mentioned before. These actions are usually done by dogs to block the scent emanating from their anal glands so other dogs cannot detect them. A dog may be in pain if he or she does not eat or drink. An injury or illness could also cause it. It is best to take your dog to a vet to find out whats causing this and how to treat it.

My dog is holding its tail to one side after grooming. Is that okay?

It is possible that he may become irritated around his rear limbs if he turns his tail sideways. This could be caused by irritation of the glands as well as nerve damage or inflammation in his back. However you should never administer any medication without first consulting your veterinarian. Please take your dog to the vet and let them know about his sudden change in behavior.

My dog looks constipated and tucking his tail between his legs should I be concerned?

Its possible that your dog is having trouble pooping because of an anal impaction or infection. Also it suggests the possibility of back or neck pain in your dog.

My old dog tucks his tail between his legs. What could that mean?

He may not have been interested in socializing with other dogs and preventing them from sensing his presence. The older he gets the less interested he is in things and the less energy he has to interact with young dogs.

Nevertheless your dog may be experiencing health problems due to old age. Pain does not usually cause a dog to complain unless its extremely severe.

My dog’s tail is between his legs while eating. Does that mean they don’t like the food?

No the answer is simple. Dogs are concentrating when they do this and it is not a sign of discomfort or distress. Dogs tend to do this when they are doing something that they enjoy and when they are focused. Thus if your dog is doing this while eating you should take it as a compliment. Nevertheless some dogs feel nervous or stressed around other dogs or strangers when they are eating together. You can let him eat alone or away from other dogs to see if thats what makes him nervous or stressed.

My neighbors dog’s tail appears to be twitching whenever I am around. Should I be afraid?

There is a chance that your neighbors dog is familiar with you but may not feel comfortable around you. When his tail is pointing upward and twitching he is trying to tell you that you are on his territory. Therefore you should back off because the dog may get aggressive and attack you.

Learn this and you can enjoy walking your dog without having to worry about accidents. Some dogs do not like other dogs for whatever reason. It is possible that they are not comfortable around strangers or had a bad experience with another dog of their breed. Therefore you should stay away from dogs showing off their dominance.

Is my dog sick if his tail is between his legs and he’s panting?

It is not a positive sign to see your dog panting without any reason. A panting dog indicates that he may be sick or in heat stroke or respiratory problems may be a factor order. If you immediately take your dog to the vet if you can not find a good reason why your dog is panting.

What does it mean if my dog’s tail is hanging down for days?

You should consult a veterinarian if your dogs tail is hanging flaccidly for days. This is a sign of Limber tail syndrome or acute Caudal Myopathy. Large breed dogs are more likely to suffer from lumber tail a disorder of muscles causing the dogs tail to become flaccid after a sprain. It can also be caused by overexertion prolonged crate confinement exposure to cold weather and abnormal exercise.

Keep in mind that these are all just guidelines.

Understanding your dogs body language is crucial and observing the way their tail moves can help you to figure out what they are trying to tell you. A tail wag can however convey different meanings depending on the situation you should pay close attention to your dogs signals and clues from his tail to his expression. 

If you understand their body language you can prevent problems from occurring and understand their emotional state. It could also add you will be able to avoid trouble when meeting their pets. If you identify certain tail behaviors it will allow you to take action before the dog starts barking or attacking.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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