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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Every dog’s tail is fully equipped with signals and messages meant for communication with us and with each other on a daily basis. It’s fascinating how it’s displayed for that specific purpose.

For example, the tail wagging behavior is reserved for other beings entirely, meaning that a dog will not wag his/her tail without the presence of another being or at least who they perceive to be another being, since there would be no message to convey.

Tail positioning is important in the message as it relays the emotional state of mind. A tail positioned in the middle exudes a neutral statement. This indicates a relaxed state of mind. A tail held a little higher conveys alertness, attentiveness and more excitement. An erect tail held higher and straight up can relay tension and possibly territorial arousal. An extremely low tail displays low self esteem and submissiveness. A tail tucked under signals extreme stress and possibly pain. Generally a slight to broad wagging tail is inviting and friendly, a slow wagging tail is cautious and unsure and a quick short abrupt wag can be anxiety. The context and other body language should be observed as well.

Breed plays an important role as many dogs are unable to display clear signals due to the limitations of their tail’s size, shape and movement. Also some breeds like the Greyhound carry their tails low naturally so breed and context must be taken into consideration as well.

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