Why Do Wolves Wag Their Tails When Happy?

February 14, 2024

When people see their pet dog wagging its tail when they return home, it is often seen as a sign of affection. But where does this behavior come from? Do domesticated dogs and their wild wolf ancestors share the same tail-wagging signals as each other? And what do the wags actually mean?

In fact, wolves do not wag their tails the way many people assume. They use their tails for a number of purposes, including signaling their social rank to other members of the pack. Wolves can also communicate with each other through body postures, ear position, and vocalization.

One of the most common indications that a wolf is happy is a tail that is held high up. This may indicate that the wolf is feeling playful, much like a domestic dog will do when it wants to play. Another indication of happiness is a wolf with its tail drooped or tucked underneath its legs. This is a sign of submission and is often used by mid-ranking or omega wolves to show respect toward higher-ranking wolves.

Lastly, look for a wolf that is displaying a “play bow.” This involves the wolf bending down with its hindquarters in the air and its head held high on the ground. This is a display of subordination and is used by wolves to avoid conflict, much like when two adults are greeting each other in the wild.

Look for the other signs of happiness as well, such as a relaxed mouth and a lowered gaze. You should also look for a wolf that is stretching or yawning, as this indicates that the wolf is at ease.


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