Dogs are undoubtedly very adorable pets. But they are pretty complex creatures at the same time. While dogs have their own unique ways of communicating and body language, they are difficult to understand. So it’s not an easy feat to be a dog parent.
Whenever you see your dog exhibiting any unusual body language, learn about it immediately to understand what it signals.
For instance, you may notice that your dog isn’t wagging its tail. Instead, the tail is in between their two legs and, at the same time, acting weirdly.
What does it signify? Is it something about which to be concerned?
Fascinatingly, it’s one of the most common questions that come up from dog parents. You already know that the tail is used as a mode of communication by dogs. When they wag their tail, it signifies happiness. However, if your dog is swaying the tail in a certain way, it can even indicate nervousness.
Now, there can be several reasons behind your dog’s having their tail between their legs. The biggest probability is that your dog is spooked. But other possibilities also include poor health conditions. Your dog might have tail injuries, flea infestations, or even pyoderma.
This article will discuss all potential causes that can make your dog’s tail stick between their legs and cause them to behave abnormally. Keep reading to learn about them!
10 Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Has A Tail Between The Legs
It’s essential to understand the body language of your dog. Most of the time, you will see them wagging their tails for communication. So if you suddenly notice their tail tucked between the legs, it can concern you. Several things can lead to this behavior in dogs.
You will find a list of probable reasons why your buddy is acting like this below.
1. Scared of the new environment
In most cases, dogs keep their tail between their legs when they are afraid of something around them. It can be another dog, a loud noise, or anything else. However, they will manifest such body language when feeling insecure in an unknown or new environment.
Unfortunately, dogs in rescue centres usually show this unusual tail behavior. They take longer to get comfortable in new surroundings and trust new owners.
So situations that can make dogs behave weirdly and have the tail between the legs include meeting new people or dogs, getting into a new home, and visiting the park for the first time.
2. Being Submissive
Your dog might have done something wrong. So he is tucking his tail between his legs to exhibit their guilt and submission.
But all dog breeds won’t manifest this body language. Breeds like Siberian Huskies, Beagles and German Shepherds may not recognize their owner as the pack leader.
3. Tick or flea infestation
Fleas and ticks are very annoying to dogs. These bloodsucking insects love warm temperatures and generally thrive in the feet, belly, neck, and anus of dogs.
So dogs often lick or scratch themselves to remove the fleas and ticks. However, if your dog has these parasites in the anus, they can exhibit their stress by tucking the tail within the legs.
Well, the fact is that fleas and ticks are active only in the summer. So be conscious of it when summer steps in.
4. Tail Fracture
A dog’s tail can get fractured easily. Those with longer tails have a higher risk of fracturing the tails.
Generally, a dog’s tail can get fractured if something heavy falls on it, if it has been hit by a vehicle, or if it falls from a high place. And if the tail is fractured, the dog will display behavioral changes.
Look for these symptoms to ascertain if your dogs tail is fractured:
- He isn’t wagging the tail.
- The walking pattern has changed.
- The tail’s skin is bleeding in specific areas.
- He is losing hair around the tail.
- His tail is emitting a bad odour.
- He is crying or whimpering often.
If you aren’t sure but suspect that your dog’s tail is fractured, take him immediately to the vet.
5. Anal glands are infected or impacted
Small dog breeds are more vulnerable to anal gland sickness. And it usually results from nutritional problems.
For example, a lack of fibre in a dog’s body can impact their poop. The fluid accumulates, thickens, and sticks to the anal gland, causing infection.
So if your dog is having an anal infection, you can notice his tail in between the legs along with other abnormal behaviors. It includes sitting weirdly down, licking the anal hairs, and scooting on the ground.
6. Displaying a lack of interest
Dogs often don’t like anyone to bother them, especially when females are in heat. A female dog may not want a strange dog to sniff her sensitive body areas, eventually tucking their tails between her legs. This body language will stop unwanted male dogs from partnering with them and lingering around them.
So check whether your female buddy is in heat or not. If so, don’t let any other dogs bother her, especially those that intend to mate.
7. Suffering from a skin infection
Another probable cause behind your dog’s keeping its tail between the legs is skin infection.
Did your buddy have its tail scraped or cut? Then, he might have gotten an infection from it that he is trying to hide from you by keeping its tail between the legs.
A more common parasitic, bacterial, or fungal infection is pyoderma. It appears reddish from the exterior with a white, pus-filled area in the center. Breeds like Shar-Peis and Bulldogs have deep skin folds and wrinkles. So they are more susceptible to this serious skin condition.
8. Limber Tail Syndrome
In medical terms, limber tail is known as acute caudal myopathy. Other common names for this medical condition are broken wag, cold water tail, and swimmer’s tail.
Have your dog been to extremely cold weather or frigid water recently? Or did your buddy undergo an extensive workload in the last few days? Did you notice him tucking his tail between his legs and behaving strangely after it?
A major risk factor for limber tail syndrome is overexertion. And thus, this illness is more common in working dogs like the English Setter, English Pointer, Vizsla, Beagle and Labrador.
The tail plays an important role in the dog’s movements. And incessant activities or exercise can cause physical trauma like strains, sprains, or Limber Tail Syndrome. This illness affects the tail muscles from the base onward.
Limber tail syndrome is more common in working or sporting dogs. However, your couch-bound buddy can also suffer from this condition if they carry out heavy workouts for a day. Many dog parents reported that their pets had limp tails after a heavy day of swimming. Eventually, Limber Tail Syndrome also became commonly known as ‘Swimmer’s Tail’.
So if you notice your dog tucking its tail between the legs and behaving strangely only after heavy exertion, it’s possibly because of “Limber Tail Syndrome.”
Some common symptoms of this illness include:
- The tail is limping and hanging
- Facing difficulty in defecating
- Loss of appetite or refusing to eat and drink
- Reluctant to sit
- The tail is in between the legs in all situations
- The tail base has swollen
- Whimpering often without any apparent reason
If you notice these symptoms or suspect any related symptoms, take your dog to the vet right away. This illness can lead to a more severe condition. So don’t take the risk of treating it yourself. Your vet will possibly prescribe some anti-inflammatory medications to manage the pain.
In most cases, a dog takes nearly two weeks to recover from Swimmer’s Tail. Avoid engaging your canine in strenuous activities for a few weeks.
In general, don’t allow your pet to swim in chilly or icy water. Apart from this, let him maintain a good physical shape without straining too hard at once.
9. Happy Tail Syndrome
Wagging the tail is a common way for dogs to express their joy and happiness. But sometimes they can injure themselves by wagging it so forcefully and so much.
This condition is known as happy tail syndrome and typically begins from the tail’s top, where the skin is thinner. In severe instances, repeated strikes to the tail’s same area can lead to exposed nerves and bleeding ulcers.
Unfortunately, Happy Tail Syndrome can be too hard to heal in some dogs just because they can’t stop wagging their tail, eventually hurting the already affected area again and again.
Look for symptoms like hair loss, bleeding, swelling, or redness in one or more concentrated areas in their tail. However, another clear indication of this canine-specific condition is when your dog tucks his tail or yelps after striking the tail against something.
Breeds that are more susceptible to happy tail syndrome include Retrievers, Labradors, Great Danes, Greyhounds and Pitbull’s.
However, any dog with a powerfully wagging tail can suffer from this syndrome. To heal it, you must consult your vet for advice. Regularly monitor any signs of infection. On the other hand, use mild soap, water, and antibiotic ointments to avoid the wound getting infected. And make sure to cover the area with a gauge.
10. A sign of apologizing and being ashamed
Your dog might be feeling ashamed or guilty about doing something wrong.
Dog parents yell or give the evil eye when they catch their canines misbehaving. And most dogs respond to this reaction by drooping their heads, slouching over, and curling their tails in the middle of their legs. They just don’t want to make eye contact with you, expressing, “I am sorry. Forgive me.”
What Should You Do When Your Dog Tucks His Tail Between His Legs?
If your canine has its tail between the legs, it indicates something is wrong. So you should act on it right away.
But first and foremost, you have to detect the real cause behind this unusual behavior and then, choose the appropriate treatment.
For example, if your buddy is keeping its tail between the legs due to confusion or fear, cuddle them to show your love, give them space. Rather than forcing them to behave normally or the way you like, wait for the time he is ready for assistance.
Following that, you can start training and socializing him. With time, your buddy will gain confidence and become comfortable socializing with other humans and dogs.
However, if your canine is suffering from any kind of tail infection or injury, take advice from your vet. Don’t let them do anything too strenuous! Keep a close eye on them at all times. In addition, maintain a nutritious diet for your dog and keep his area and surroundings clean and safe. Likewise, your dog will recover rapidly.
When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet?
Some of the reasons behind your dog’s tucking its tail behind its legs and acting weird aren’t too alarming. But while a dog’s body language is pretty difficult to understand, it’s better to take them to the vet as soon as you notice any unusual behaviors.
You can detect the real cause early and know whether it’s something serious or normal. In case of a fractured tail, limper tail syndrome, happy tail syndrome, or any alarming condition, your only choice is to take him to the vet.
A dog can keep their tail between their legs and act unusually for several reasons. However, the most probable causes known include fear, infected anal glands, limber tail syndrome, and fractured tails.
If your dog continues to manifest this behaviour, take them to the veterinarian.
Your dog might be in pain or afraid. Monitor their body language for some time to ascertain what is setting off your dog. However, certain severe health conditions can cause dogs to shiver and shake. It includes seizures, poisoning, distemper, and old age.
Signs that indicate pain include heavy breathing, suddenly behaving aggressively, changes in normal routine, restlessness, and more vocalization.
Dogs having their tails between their legs and behaving weirdly isn’t always an indication of something serious. However, it’s better to be on the safe side when it comes to dogs. The cause is often not physical but mental. On the other hand, it can also be a symptom of severe illness, infection, or injury.
The vet can accurately detect the real cause and offer the best advice or treatment to deal with the condition.
Meet John Patterson, an accomplished Dog Trainer and a dedicated advocate for building strong human-canine relationships.With years of experience as a Professional Dog Trainer, John firmly believes that well-trained dogs are a reflection of patient guidance and unwavering care. Beyond his training skills, he finds solace in grooming and playing with dogs, nurturing their physical and emotional well-being.