+2 votes
in General Factchecking by Apprentice (1.4k points)
There are some websites saying that a dog's tail wagging means they are friendly. However, there are other people that say tail wagging could mean a whole range of emotions.

13 Answers

+4 votes
by Apprentice (1.5k points)
selected by
 
Best answer

Dogs wag their tails to show a multitude of emotions. The most commonly seen emotion thats shown by a dog wagging their tail is happiness or as a sign for greeting a person as they run up to them. However, tail wagging can also be a sign of "nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement." It should also be noted that many articles explain that friendly dogs wag their tail but so do dogs that are about to attack someone, so its not enough to see a dog's tail wagging and assume that the interaction will be friendly.

https://www.thehealthypetclub.co.uk/dogs-wag-tails/#:~:text=Dogs%20will%20wag%20their%20tail,on%20the%20breed%20of%20dog.

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/interpreting-tail-wags-in-dogs#:~:text=the%20same%20time.-,Aggression.,that%20is%20wagging%20its%20tail!

False
by Genius (42.0k points)
Good work putting together a clear explanation that includes a quote as well as two sources to support your fact-check.
+4 votes
by Novice (800 points)

The claim that when dog's wag their tails, it means that are friendly is false. After reading the article from VCA animal hospitals, they claim that tall wagging can mean a variety of things, other than friendliness. It can mean irritation, aggression, and even submission. The VCA is an animal animal hospital that works closely with companion animals, like dogs. VCA animal hospital specializes in medicine practices and research. They authors of the article, Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM are both veterinarians. Lynn has been practicing veterinary medicine for 28 years. I searched this claim on the internet and found an article by the American Kennel Club. They stated that "Most people associate a wagging tail with a happy dog, but that’s not always the case. Dogs’ tails can tell us a lot about how a dog is feeling, and a wagging tail doesn’t always mean that a dog is friendly and approachable." The AKC is a long-standing and reputable website regarding dog breeds and their behavior. After much research, the claim that when a dog wags their tail it means they are friendly is false. 

https://www.dvm360.com/authors/lynn-buzhardt-dvm-0

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/why-do-dogs-wag-their-tails/ 

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/interpreting-tail-wags-in-dogs

False
by Genius (42.0k points)
+1
Nice job finding multiple sources to support your fact-check and including pertinent quotes!
+1 vote
by Apprentice (1.7k points)

The claim that a dog is friendly because they are wagging their tail is not true. According to the American Kennel Club, "a dog's tail acts like a barometer for his mood." They go on to explain that while a dog wagging their tail can be a friendly greeting, it doesn't necessarily mean the dog itself is friendly. It's important to consider other factors. The wagging tail is a mood indicator and doesn't correlate with a dog being friendly.

Rating: False

Source: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/why-do-dogs-wag-their-tails/

False
+2 votes
by Novice (700 points)

The claim that "When a dog's tail wags, it means they are friendly" is not true. According to the article Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?,

"Dogs will wag their tail to convey a range of emotions: happiness, nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement."

"Finally, the most important thing to remember is that a waggy tail doesn’t necessarily mean a happy or friendly dog. A wagging tail is simply a sign of a dog interacting with its environment."

https://www.thehealthypetclub.co.uk/dogs-wag-tails/

Also, according to the article "Interpreting Tail Wags in Dogs", Tail position may indicate 

Preparedness or agitation, Negotiation, Aggression, Submission, Curiosity, Happiness.

So it is false to say that dogs' tail wagging indicates friendliness.

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/interpreting-tail-wags-in-dogs

False
+2 votes
by Apprentice (1.0k points)

According to The Healthy Pet Club, "Dogs will wag their tail to convey a range of emotions: happiness, nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement." Although happiness is one of the emotions dogs may experience while wagging their tail, it is not be the only one. A lot of this also has to do with the body language of the dog, not just the fact that they are wagging their tail. For example, if a dog is scared, they will likely hold their tail between their legs and do a small wag. It is also important to remember that dogs don't only use their tails to convey emotion, but they also use them for stability and balance.

https://www.thehealthypetclub.co.uk/dogs-wag-tails/

False
+2 votes
by Apprentice (1.1k points)

The statement that a dog's tail wagging means that they are friendly is false. While a dog may be wagging it's tail because it is happy, that does not mean it is a friendly dog. Tail wagging can also convey multiple other emotions, some positive, and some negative, according to an article by LiveScience. The position and direction of tail movement is also indicative of emotions.

"Specifically, a tail wagging to the right indicates positive emotions, and a tail wagging to the left indicates negative emotions."

https://www.livescience.com/45196-why-do-dogs-wag-their-tails.html

The tail does much communication. In an article written by Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM, and Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, they state that the dog's tail can also show agitation, aggression, submission, and more.

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/interpreting-tail-wags-in-dogs

Exaggerated/ Misleading
+2 votes
by Apprentice (1.0k points)

The claim that when a dog's tail wags, it means they are friendly is not true. A dog could be friendly if they are wagging their tail, but they may also be expressing a variety of emotions. thehealthypetclub.co.uk writes, "Dogs will wag their tail to convey a range of emotions: happiness, nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement". 

Links: https://www.thehealthypetclub.co.uk/dogs-wag-tails/#:~:text=Dogs%20will%20wag%20their%20tail,on%20the%20breed%20of%20dog.

False
+2 votes
by Apprentice (1.4k points)

Although there are many articles and ideas that a wagging dog tail means they are friendly, that is not always the case. A dog tail waging can mean very different things when looking at their body language also. If a dog is wagging their tail and it’s lower or “tucked in” it could be a sign of insecurity or anxiety, in that case it is not always best to approach the dog. Meanwhile a fast wag and high may mean excitement, but a high wag may mean dominance or aggression. Therefore, tail wags are not always meaning a friendly dog. They should instead be further investigated through the rest of the body language and positioning of the tail wag.

https://www.newlifek9s.org/news-events/blog/service-dog-blog.html/article/2021/03/05/the-tail-wag-knowing-if-your-dog-is-happy-or-anxious

False
+3 votes
by Apprentice (1.1k points)

This claim is false. 

Dogs wagging their tails is a way of communicating a variety of complex emotions. It depends heavily on the direction as well as speed of the tail wagging to hint at what a dog is trying to communicate. According to the American Kennel Club, a trusted organization for training, breed, health, and the overall information of dogs, mentions how, “In some ways, tail wagging serves the same communication functions as a human smile, a polite greeting, or a nod of recognition,” which was specifically said by Dr. Stanley Coren. A dog's tail wagging indicating that they are friendly may have some truth to it in some instances; however, it is not entirely correct for what was mentioned above. The American Kennel Club later gives an example in the same article, "Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tales" where it says that, "A slow wag could mean that a dog is unsure and feeling insecure about a situation." Here is the website for this information:

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/why-do-dogs-wag-their-tails/

Another website that focuses on dogs mentions information that is very similar to the source above. The article, "Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?" from The Healthy Pet Club mentions how "[d]ogs will wag their tail to convey a range of emotions: happiness, nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement." Here is the link for that:

 https://www.thehealthypetclub.co.uk/dogs-wag-tails/#:~:text=Dogs%20will%20wag%20their%20tail,on%20the%20breed%20of%20dog.

Both articles above share an expertise on dogs, so they are most likely valid and reliable. To make sure that the information these articles are sharing is true, I looked up Dr. Stanley Coren who was mentioned in the first article presented. He is a psychology professor from the University of Pennsylvania who studies dogs. He has his own website where he demonstrates his knowledge and expertise on dogs. There, he touches on the topic of dogs and their tail wagging. He mentions how, "[s]ome tail wags have totally different meanings." On his website he goes more into detail about the different meanings. Here is the website: 

https://www.stanleycoren.com/e_feel.htm

False
+2 votes
by Novice (820 points)

A dog wagging his tail does not necessarily mean they are friendly because dogs use their tails to communicate. As stated by VCA animal hospitals, "Canines know many variations of the “tail wag” and they all mean different things. In fact, a wag of the tail is one of the best methods of communication in the canine kingdom". For this reason, it is important to look at a dogs facial features, stance, and ear position to understand what emotions a dog is trying to portray. 

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/interpreting-tail-wags-in-dogs 

Exaggerated/ Misleading

Community Rules


Be respectful.

There is bound to be disagreement on a site about misinformation. Assume best intentions on everyone's part.

If you are new to factchecking, take some time to learn about it. "How to Factcheck" has some resources for getting started. Even if you disagree with these materials, they'll help you understand the language of this community better.

News Detective is for uncovering misinformation and rumors. This is not a general interest question-answer site for things someone could Google.

Posting

The title is the "main claim" that you're trying to factcheck.

Example:
Factcheck This: Birds don't exist

If possible, LINK TO to the place you saw the claim.

Answering

LINK TO YOUR EVIDENCE or otherwise explain the source ("I called this person, I found it in this book, etc.")

But don't just drop a link. Give an explanation, copy and paste the relevant information, etc.

News Detective is not responsible for anything anyone posts on the platform.
...