Does Your Dog Always Wag Its Tail in Circles? Here’s the Reason Why

Who doesn’t love a dog that is endlessly wagging its tail? It’s a sign of affection, of devotion, and a wordless signal that your pooch is delighted to have you by their side. That could be a simplification, though, as dog tails are as mysterious as the ocean – the way they move, their wagging speed, and the time they are displayed could mean a lot of things. 

 Now, there is an extreme version of a tail wagging, and it is a dog tail wagging in circles. And despite its distinction from the ordinary, circular tail wags are still often brush off as mundane by many owners, but it actually offers insights that should benefit you and your canine’s relationship.

First, what does a circular tail wag look like?

A typical wag sees the dog’s tail going on a back and forth motion, which is also where a circular tail wag starts. A dog’s tail is like an antenna, it attunes dogs to their surroundings and it also exhibits what they are feeling. A tail going from a standard wag to a full-on propeller movement just shows how intense their feelings are. This is similar to a dog barking. The louder and persistent the bark is, the more powerful the emotions they are trying to convey

Your dog is happy to see you.

Also known as a helicopter tail or a helicopter wag, a dog tail wagging in circles usually simply means a dog is overjoyed of your presence or because they had done something they are proud of (socializing with other dogs or performing tricks successfully). It’s simple as that. 

 And most of the time, added factors of treats, toys, and the notion of walking outside increases this behavior. You could say that a dog tail wag is akin to a human smile. Now imagine how happy your dog is if his or her tail goes into a rapid circular motion that even makes the body equally wagging!

Your dog is excited.

Happiness and excitement can be two different things. A happy dog simply wants to nestle in your arms and maybe lick you or stuck its paws on you in the process. On the other hand, an excited dog wags its tail with mischief and aggressiveness, and knocks off objects and other dogs while doing so.

A dog tail wagging in circles can also signify that your dog, while excited to see you, is being wary of your authority. The same goes for dogs meeting new dogs. Their tails can wag in a circular motion due to exhilaration and nervousness at the same time.

I once met a dog who is easily scared of anything. Sudden sounds make him go under tables, and when you call for him, he usually comes outside with a tail wagging in a broad circle. He also is authoritative of his treasures. He hides his food inside his large snout, and if anyone dares to come close; his tail goes into a speedy circular motion coupled with a low growl. 

Did you know?

The direction of a dog’s tail wag says a lot about what it is feeling. A tail going right means that a dog has a positive emotion while a tail wagging to the left means the dog is holding a negative reaction to whatever it is seeing or sensing. This is based off on how different a dog’s two brain hemispheres work. 

A circular tail wag’s prime direction can be difficult to determine as it can go differently without warning. Picture how frenzied a dog’s feelings when doing this! And as we have said, a dog tail wagging in circles is very complex and you cannot always tag a friendly meaning to it.

dog tail wagging in circles

Your dog is trying to sway you.

Dogs are clever, and one proof of this is that they have remained to be man’s best friend for thousands of years now. And no other animal had taken their place. Just take a moment and realize that we have beasts with sharp teeth and claws inside our homes, but we still managed to love them! 

 While it’s not entirely their desire to influence you, dogs wag their tails in a circular motion to pacify situations and make you calm regardless of what they have done. Dogs are very sentient beings and they know that eliciting emotions through their circular wags could hit two birds with one stone. First is that they make you happy and second is you do whatever they want because you are appeased. 

Who won’t be swayed by those round eyes and bodies that seemed to have been pumped with adrenaline?

It is clear. 

Dogs, through circular tail wags, use their most effective arsenal to get what they want: cuteness.

What if your dog doesn’t do the circular wag?

Despite their similar genetic makeup, all dogs are unique from each other, meaning not all of them can do the circular tail wag, even if they have the body structure to do so. For example, dogs with naturally short, curled, and docked tails cannot properly exhibit a dog tail wagging in circles – at least not the quickly visible kind, but they can surely swing their rears from side to side as an alternative. Other dogs, even with straight tails, cannot do the circular tail wag simply because they can’t.

Dogs with special cases such as an invalid or completely removed of their lower extremities cannot actually show that they are wagging their tails in circles, but they can make it up through whimpering or a joyous facial expression.

If your dog had stopped wagging its tail in circles like it used to and is showing other signs of lethargy, then it might be the time to visit the vet. This could mean a health problem as a dog’s tail is made of bones bound together by joints. And among many solutions to help bring back the power of your dog’s tail, proper treatment and right joint supplements should be the most effective.

Does Your Dog Always Wag Its Tail in Circles

Circular Wag Tails In A Nutshell

Even with some of the information above, there really is nothing to be alarmed about a dog constantly wagging its tail in circles. They are just glad upon seeing you and their tails, which are one of their most important tools of communication are just doing their jobs. But if there is anything to take away from this, it’s that wagging tails, no matter how acrobatic they look, cannot always mean that they are happy to see you. And like most everything about our dogs, we should always take things with caution so we can continuously live in harmony with our furry friends.

Tell us stories about your dog’s circular tail wags! We would love to hear it!

About the Author:


Brian Larsen is the Co-Founder and CEO of RejuvaPet, LLC — the creator of RestoraPet and RestoraPet Hemp. He spent nearly 10 years developing these products to rehabilitate and protect pets at the cellular level, for a vastly improved quality of life.

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