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Dog Has Tail Between Legs, Acting Weird: What It Means

Dogs put their tail between their legs when they want to communicate something to their owners. They may be signaling that they are sick, scared, need reassurance, or anxious.

Dogs are expressive creatures. They are smart and love interacting with their owners. But they can’t talk.

Since dogs cannot speak our language, they have other unique ways of communicating with their owners.

Barking, whining, and crying are the most common ways dogs interact with people and other dogs. They also communicate with their body language, which is why it is important to pay attention to their behavior.

A dog’s tail can tell you a lot about how that dog is feeling. 

If your dog has its tail between its legs and is acting weird, you must pay close attention to them as it can be a cause for concern.

This article explains the reasons why dogs put their tail between their legs and how you can stop this behavior.

What It Means If A Dog Has Its Tail Between Its Legs, Acting Weird

Dogs portray a variety of emotions via their tail. A waggling tail signals that your dog is excited and eager. If their tail is between their legs, it can mean that your dog is sick or afraid.

Dogs use their tails for communication. A dog’s tail can tell you a lot about what they are feeling or trying to convey. 

For example, a wagging tail means that your dog is happy and excited.

The position of your dog’s tail reveals much about them. If your dog has its tail between its legs, it can mean several things, such as fear, sickness, pain, or anxiety. 

If it only happens once in a while, there is nothing to worry about. Frequent “tail between legs” behavior indicates a serious issue that must be handled.

What It Means If A Dog Has Its Tail Between Its Legs, Acting Weird
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6 Reasons Why Dogs Put Tails Between Legs

Dogs put their tails in between their legs due to several reasons. They can be afraid, anxious, sick, or suffering from tail fractures.

Seeing your dog acting weird and putting its tail in between its legs can be frustrating. Imagine the frustration your dog feels when they can’t tell you exactly what they want. 

It is important that you are aware of the major reasons why dogs put their tails between their legs to identify the root cause and take steps to solve it.

Here are six reasons why dogs have their tails between their legs.


Dogs are known for their loyalty and bravery. These creatures will defend their owners from any and all threats. While the bravery of dogs cannot be questioned, these canines do feel afraid under the wrong circumstances.

Fear is the biggest reason for a dog putting its tail in between its legs. Tail tucking is believed to be an instinct of dogs to appear smaller when under threat.

If your dog buries its head in you while tucking its tail, it is a clear sign that they are afraid of something. You should find out who is what is scaring your dog and take steps to eliminate it.

dog fear
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When humans feel sick, we visit a doctor to receive our treatment. Dogs don’t have that privilege. Your dog can only come to you when they feel sick. You should figure out their signals and get them checked by a veterinarian.

If your dog is putting its tail between its legs, there is a chance your dog is suffering from an illness. 

On top of that, there are accompanying signs that show if your dog is sick:

  • Lethargy
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Hunched posture
  • Low appetite
  • Quick breaths and salivation
  • Increased heartbeat

You should check for any of these signs in your dog and consult a veterinarian if things get worse.


Dogs can get aggressive. Many dogs end up fighting other dogs, which can result in injuries. If your dog has recently been in a fight, chances are that your dog has a broken tail.

A lower back injury can also result in the tail hanging limply and static. Notice whether your dog can move its tail. You should also check for swelling or blood that indicates injury.


Most dogs are wary of new environments. They feel threatened and insecure when they are brought to an entirely new atmosphere from what they are used to.

If your dog tucks its tail when it is with another dog, at a park, or at someone else’s house, there is a high probability that your dog is suffering from insecurity.

dog Insecurity
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To Avoid Mating

If you have a female dog, you can notice them tucking their tails in between their legs, especially during the heat cycle. She pulls her tail towards her abdomen to protect her vulva and repel any unwanted approach.

If your dog tucks her tail in the presence of male dogs, she is doing so to avoid unwanted mating.


Dogs can get infested with fleas. These parasites live off their host’s body and suck their blood. If your dog starts to itch everywhere and has its tail between its legs, it is infested with fleas.

Fleas cause tremendous amounts of itch. Some of the signs of flea infestation are:

  • Redness
  • Scabbing
  • Sore skin
  • Excessive rubbing and licking
  • Hair loss

Related: Flea Bites on Dogs

Dog Still Itching After Flea and Tick Treatment

What Does it Mean When Dogs Have Their Tail Between Their Legs?

Dogs tuck their tails between their legs to signal their owners how they are feeling. Pain, fear, and sickness are some of the primary reasons for tail tucking behaviors.

Dogs communicate with their owners through their body language. Their tails are important communication tools for them. 

The position of their tail can reveal much information about their health and feelings.

  • Pointed downwards and sticks to legs – Stress or insecurity
  • Tucked in between legs – Fear and submission
  • Wagging hoisted tail – Happy, eager, and excited
  • Slight wagging straight upright – Aggressive and wary
  • Drooping – Sickness

Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Panting

If your dog has its tail between its legs and panting, it can be a sign of sickness. Dogs that start panting without exercise during playtimes can be ill and require prompt medical attention.

If a dog is struggling for breath, its tail will droop low and will appear lifeless. Vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation are also signs to look for to identify whether your dog is sick.

Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Panting
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Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Shaking

A shaking dog is a scared dog. The alpha of the pack raises its tail to spread its pheromones far for all the members to smell. A frightened dog does the opposite.

It tucks its tail in between its legs to appear smaller and weaker. This instinct is triggered in dogs when they experience fear or anxiety. The tucked tail blocks the pheromones from being released in the environment and attracts fewer canines.

Notice when your dog exhibits this behavior. If it is around other dogs, your pooch feels intimidated and afraid. 

In this case, you should lead them away from these canines and calm them down.

Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Whimpering

Dogs are social animals. They require the support of their pack, which is you. Tucking the tail between their legs is a sign of anxiety or fear. 

If your dog is demonstrating this behavior and whimpering, there is a possibility that they are afraid of something that they want you to fix.

Dogs can get startled by even the slightest of sounds. A firetruck alarm, a loud horn, or even fireworks can trigger the crying behavior of your dog. 

Related: My Dog Yelps When I Lift His Tail

Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Whimpering
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My Dog is Walking with Its Tail Between Its Legs

Dogs are usually excited about walks. The average dog craves a morning walk with its owner. If your dog is keeping its tail tucked between its legs, it is a sign that they are not confident in that particular environment.

A tail between legs is a sign of a submissive dog. It helps them appear smaller and less of a threat. Avoid taking your dog to places where they feel threatened and weak. You can also try building their confidence by slowly trying new things with them.

If the tail still hangs low, there can be a more serious concern. Consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid long-term harm to manifest.

Dog Tucks Tail Between Legs While Eating

One time of the day all dogs love is feeding time. Nothing in the world makes your dog happier than good food. If you notice that your dog has its tail tucked between its legs when they are eating its food, you shouldn’t be concerned.

This is the only time when a tail tucked below is not a bad sign. Dogs droop their tails when they are focusing on the task at hand. If your dog exhibits this behavior while eating, it is a compliment. It means that they like the food. 

Notice if their ears are also pointed forward. If so, they are fully immersed in munching, and the droopy tucked tail is nothing to worry about.

Dogs also exhibit this behavior when they are doing other tasks that require focus. 

Watch your dog dig a hole for its bone, and you can find its tails hanging lifelessly. Dogs can concentrate so much on their tasks that they stop using their tails.

My Dog is of Senior Age and its Tail Droops

Dogs get old fast. They age faster than people. It is a universal truth. They have an average lifespan of around 8-11 years[1]. Unfortunately, the majority of the dogs do not survive more than a decade. 

A dog older than ten years is considered a senior. Old people become weak and fragile with the passing of time, and so is the case with dogs.

Older dogs have less energy and stamina in them to remain active throughout the day. If you see your dog with its tail hanging, there is probably nothing to worry about.

The droopy tail is not the result of an underlying injury or disease, but of father time.

This doesn’t mean that your dog cannot develop health issues in old age. If things seem serious, consult a veterinarian to learn the reason behind your dog’s limping tail.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Have Their Tails Between Their Legs?

Dogs tuck their tails in their legs all the time. It is normal, especially when they are focusing on something. Frequent leg tucking can be the cause of a serious problem.

A tail in between the legs is a common sight for dog owners. Tail tucking coupled with leg shaking, crying, or panting can have a deeper meaning.

The most common reason for a dog’s tail tucking behavior is fear and anxiety. You shouldn’t put your dog in positions that frighten them. This can increase their anxiety levels and make them feel unloved.

Help them feel safe and secure to make them relax when they are scared. Avoid taking them to parks if they are afraid of other dogs.

If they are afraid of other people, you should not bring them to a room full of strangers. You should identify what makes your dog scared and take the necessary steps to stop it.

Dogs can also be tucking their tails out of sickness. Dogs struck with sickness have less energy to wag their tails. This makes their tales droop down.

If your dog’s tail remains droopy and down, there is a possibility that your dog is suffering from an injury. There are several different injuries and disorders that can cause your dog’s tail to droop.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Have Their Tails Between Their Legs
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Limber Tail Syndrome

Excessive and prolonged use of the tail can cause damage to the bones, ligaments, and muscles of a dog. This can lead to a condition known as the limber tail syndrome[2]. 

Dogs use their tails for a variety of purposes, such as balancing while running, showing emotions, and spreading their scent. Overexerting their tails can lead to acute caudal myopathy or limber tail syndrome, which results in their tail drooping down. 

If your dog’s tail remains down for a couple of days, or if your dog has difficulty defecating, they are suffering from the limber tail syndrome.


Dogs tuck their tails in between their legs due to skin infections. A small cut or a scrape can cause infections in your dog’s tail. One such infection is pyoderma[3]. It is caused by fungi, parasites, or bacteria.

Pyoderma is a common problem suffered by dogs everywhere. Some of the symptoms of pyoderma include papules, which are:

  • skin lesions
  • dry skin
  • itchiness
  • loss of hair

Antibiotics are used to treat this disease.

If your dog appears to have contracted pyoderma, you should consult a veterinarian to get the proper treatment for your pooch.

Happy Tail Syndrome

Dogs wag their tails when they are excited and happy. It is a common trait shared by dogs across the world. Small dogs have no problems wagging their tails, but larger dog breeds can get severe injuries with over wagging.

These large dog breeds are at risk of “happy tail syndrome”. 

This syndrome occurs when a dog wags its tail quickly. This condition is particularly challenging to treat as dogs love to wag their tails regardless of injury.

If your dog is tucking its tail in between its legs and you notice irregular movements of its tail, there is a chance that they are suffering from a happy tail syndrome

How to Stop Dogs from Putting Their Tail Between Their Legs

Identifying and solving the root cause of tail tucking behavior is the ideal method to stop dogs from exhibiting this behavior.

Dogs express their emotions with their bodies. Be aware of what your dog is communicating with you to be a better owner. Tail tucking behavior of dogs can be annoying and frustrating.

To get rid of the droopy tail and weirdness, you should focus on identifying the root cause of the problem:

  • If your dog is doing it out of fear, you should make them feel safe by removing anything that scares them. 
  • If they are afraid of other dogs, try taking them to another room or keeping them away from the other animals.
  • If your dog is doing it out of pain, you should check for its tail. 
  • If the tail seems intact, your dog can be sick and requires urgent medical attention. 

You should go to a doctor to treat your dog for whatever sickness they have.

If your dog is tucking its tail away due to an injury, notice its tail movements. Observe how the tail reacts when it is happy, sad, or exhausted. Learning about the various tail positions helps you better recognize your dog’s feelings.


Tail movements are a great communication tool for dogs to express their feelings. Dog owners should know how to identify what their pooch is trying to say with their body language.

If your dog is not wagging its tail or you notice a droop in its appendage, you should give it a check. This helps identify whether they are doing it because of fear or is there an underlying problem that needs to be rectified.

Your dog can also be suffering from a specific condition that puts a lot of pain in its tail. The majority of these conditions are easily treatable and can be cured with the right care.

If left untreated, they can turn into bigger infections which will affect your dog’s wellbeing. You should consult your veterinarian when you notice any changes in your dog’s tail movements.


Why is My Dog Walking with Tail Between Legs?

If your dog is walking with its tail between its legs, it is a sign that they are afraid of something or are anxious about the environment. Notice when this occurs; if it happens when other dogs are around or when you visit a new place, it can be that your dog doesn’t feel comfortable in that atmosphere.

What Does it Mean When Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Crying?

Dogs cry to convey their feelings of fear and anxiety. If your dog is afraid of something, it will start crying and whimpering to grab your attention. They require reassurance from their owners when they are afraid.

Why is My Dog Hunched Back with Tail Between Legs?

A hunched back body posture can mean that your dog is sick or injured. Dogs change their body language when they are in pain or affected by illness. If your dog has a hunched back, there is a chance that they are not feeling well and require a visit to the veterinarian.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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