Dog Tail Tucked Between Legs & Acting Weird (10 Reasons)

Last Updated on July, 2024

Your dog putting its tail between its legs could be due to several reasons. Since you worry about the health of your dog, It is crucial to Identify whether it is an ALARMING SIGN OR NOT.

This guide provides the TOP 10 REASONS and WHAT TO DO in such a situation. 

Quick Summary

There are various reasons why a dog may put its tail between its legs, such as fear of new environments, expressing submission, feeling ashamed, feeling uncomfortable due to heat, or experiencing physical discomfort.

When a dog’s tail position can indicate its emotions, it is crucial for pet owners to pay attention and understand their furry friend’s body language; in cases of prolonged tail-tucking behavior or accompanying symptoms, seeking veterinary care and providing proper at-home care is imperative for the dog’s well-being.”

It is essential to pay attention to your dog’s body language and understand what it is trying to communicate to you, as it can provide insight into its emotions and needs.

Reasons Why Dog Puts Tail Between Legs 

A brown and white dog standing on a gravel road with its tail between legs

A dog’s tail between its legs is not a new thing. Many dogs will experience this in their life for DIFFERENT reasons. What would be the reason for your dog?


1. Fear of New Environment 

A new environment builds confusion, fear, and anxiety in your dog. Because it is NEW and UNKNOWN to him, dogs will put their tail between their legs in a new environment due to this.

You may experience this in situations like below:

  • Going to the dog park for the first time
  • Moving to a new house 
  • Meeting new dogs in a new place
  • While traveling with your dog 
  • Hearing loud noises in the environment, like the sound of firecrackers 

This will last until your dog is familiar with the new environment. REMEMBER, a scared dog does not always act innocently. If it gets too scared, it will become violent. Make sure you will act wisely in a situation like this. 

2. Expressing Submission

Two pictures of a dog standing next to a wall with its tail between legs

Highly independent dog breeds don’t show this. But others DO! Dogs show submission to their LEADERS. The tucked tail between their legs means they did something their leader doesn’t like.

Dogs show their guilt to the leader by tucking their tail between legs. If it considers you as its leader, you might have seen this. 

3. Feeling Ashamed and Need to Apologize 

Have you ever noticed your dog tucks its tail between its legs after doing something wrong? They know they did something wrong. They feel guilty and need to apologize to you. Or they may think you will punish them.

Dogs tuck the tail between their tails for this. UNDERSTAND its body language and what it tries to tell you. 

4. When in Heat 

Do you know FEMALE dogs show tail tucking between legs while they are in HEAT? 

This is to show they are not interested in mating with male dogs. They ask for space and to be alone. If you have a female dog, take this in mind too. 

5. When Having Zoomies 

A black and tan dog playing with a red toy

You might have seen this behavior sometimes in your dog. This is a natural part of a dog’s life. If it is acting weirdly, running like a crazy pup, playing and chilling around. You will recognize the dog’s tail is tucked between its legs during this. 

This is how it releases some steam. Sometimes, dogs release stress in this way. Your dog shows this occasionally in its life. Is this happening often? Well, that’s a thing to be considered. 

6. Tail Fractures 

If your dog has a fractured tail, it may be unable to lift it, and it will keep its tail between its legs. 

Pay attention to its body language. Check for the following signs:

  • Hair loss in the tail
  • Bleeding in tail skin
  • Bad odors coming from the tail
  • Changes in walking style
  • Licking tail more often 

How could this happen? 

Tail fractures may occur due to different reasons. A few of them are listed below:

  • Falling from height
  • Hit by a car 
  • Smashed the tail when passing through a door
  • Fighting with other dogs
  • While hunting

Try to prevent the occurrence of these types of incidents. If your dog is experiencing a fractured tail, It might be in a lot of pain. ACT IMMEDIATELY and take care of it.

7. Limber Tail Syndrome 

A black dog on a leash standing on the road with its tail between legs

Was your dog exposed to cold water for a long time recently?

Exposure to a cold environment for a prolonged period will weaken your dog’s tail muscles. Because of the low temperature, the blood vessels become narrow, and the nutrient supply through blood vessels to tail muscles becomes low.

So, your dog will be unable to lift its tail temporarily and will keep the tail between its legs. 

This is called acute caudal myopathy or limber tail syndrome. People also call this cold water tail/ swimmer’s tail/ stiff tail/ limp tail/ sprung tail or cold tail.

This syndrome will develop more often in swimming and sporting dogs like labradors, setters, or pointers.

If your dog loves SWIMMING and PLAYING in COLD WATER for a long time, consider this too.

Did You Know? 

Limber tail syndrome was also found in dogs who were subjected to the following:

8. Infected Anal Glands 

Dogs also need fibers in their diet the same as humans. 

Lack of fiber makes dog stools softer. So, dogs don’t need much pressure to poop. 

Then why do the anal glands get infected?

There is a FLUID in the anal glands of dogs. This should be released with the stools.

Pooping more dense stools gives enough pressure to express this fluid. But softer stools will not help with this.

Fluid will accumulate in the glands. This is common in small dog breeds. 

Because of the fluid, glands will get infected by bacteria. This is really painful for your dog. The dog’s tail will be between its legs because of this.

a dog with its tail between legs standing on a roadside with the owner

Other body language signs of this issue are:

  • Licking or biting the anal region often
  • Scooting on the ground
  • Blood in the anal region (If the sac ruptures)

9. Skin Infection in Dog’s Tail

Dog tail is more vulnerable to getting wounds. Your dog may crawl under fences sometimes. Sometimes, it may get into fights with other dogs. This causes them to get WOUNDS and CUTS in the dog’s tail.

These wounds will become a REAL PAIN if bacteria or fungi infect them. In such cases, your dog may tuck its tail between its legs to protect it and also to hide it.

It also causes broken wag. CHECK for this too, if you suspect. REMEMBER, this is a serious thing to consider. Don’t neglect ever.

10. Tick and Flea Infestation 

FLEAS and TICKS are a real pain for many dogs. They spread in many sensitive regions of dog bodies. If the fleas or ticks get into the anal region? (I think you could imagine, right?). This might be the reason your dog tucked the tail between its legs. 

This region becomes itchy when this happens. You will see your dog lick and clean that area more often than usual too. Ticks and fleas are parasites.

They suck blood from your loving dog’s body. TOTALLY NOT A GOOD THING! Right? Make sure to consider this if you suspect. 

If Your Dogs’ Tail Between Legs: What to Do? 

pictures of two dogs with their tails between legs

Canine body language is really IMPORTANT for pet owners. Especially their tail position. Did you find the real reason for your furry friend’s tail-tucking behavior between their legs? So, what’s next? Let’s discuss it!

If it is due to the fear or anxiety caused by the new or unknown environment, it will go away once your dog feels it is safe.

And it will get back to normal behavior soon. But what if it is continuously showing this behavior? Maybe for a few days, a week, or more now? Well, It’s time for VETERINARY CARE!

Seeking Veterinary Care

If your dog’s tail is tucked between its legs due to any tail injury, broken tail, infections, or other issues, take it to your VET

Your vet has the knowledge and experience in these situations. They will decide what appropriate TREATMENTS should be given to your dog. 

They will also provide the required guidelines to take care of your pet during the time period of the treatments. Make sure to FOLLOW the GUIDELINES CORRECTLY given by your vet. 

You can also seek advice from your vet if you have no idea how to deal with your dog being anxious or scared. Especially if your dog becomes violent more quickly, seek advice from the vet regarding how to deal with such situations. 

Home Care

Taking care of your furry friends at home is the most important step:

  • Provide your dog with the necessary nutrients with a healthy diet (Take advice for this from your vet)
  • Take him to the doctor at the right time for its clinics to get medicines and manage its hygiene. (Look after it like a CHILD)
  • If your dog is injured or sick, BE CAREFUL when taking it to the doctor. Don’t cause more pain while carrying it. 
  • If taking him on your own is difficult, seek medical help. 
  • Take care of your dog’s mental health too. Understand the dog’s feelings and emotions. 
  • If your dog is scared of something, DON’T PUSH it for such things. Give it some time and space to get ready. 
  • Take care until it is ready. Help your canine companion to overcome the challenges. 

Variations in Dog Tail Positions and What They Indicate

A brown dog walking in fear

As a responsible dog owner, you MUST understand your dog’s body language. Now you know how IMPORTANT it is to understand the tail positions of your dog. This will help you to understand your dog’s emotions more than earlier.

Let’s take a look at the different tail positions you might see in your dog:

  • Pointed forward tail – Your dog exhibits this when alert and curious about its surroundings. This is also because it is confident about itself and happy or excited.
  • Down and outward-directed tail – It shows your dog is relaxed and neutral. It may show this when it is resting or within the comfort of you.
  • Slightly wagging – This will be due to several reasons. Sometimes, this is to show its friendliness to you. Or it might be the curiosity or nervousness of something.
  • Full body waggingtail – You have seen this when you come home. Dogs love to see their masters coming back after going somewhere. Because it was alone without you, this position simply shows your dog’s happiness.
  • Straight and horizontal tail – Your dog focuses on something and is ready to take action and react if needed. Straight and horizontal tail – Your dog focuses on something and is ready to take action and react if needed. 
  • Left wagging – If the tail wagging is more towards the left, your dog is possibly in a stressful or uncertain situation.
  • Right wagging – If wagging is more towards the right, your dog wants to approach something, might be its owner. Yes, YOU!
  • Vertical and fast wagging – Your dog is extremely happy. It is really excited about something. 
  • Tail tucked between legs – Most dogs behave in this manner when they experience fear, anxiety, or sickness. 
  • Tail drooping – This might be because your dog is sad. It is also a sign that your dog is exhausted. It is also a breed characteristic of some dog types.

The dog’s tail position will depend on several factors. Changes in speed, direction, and lift height of a dog tail will express different messages. Now, you may have a clear idea of what I mean. 

A dog wags its tail, not because it’s always happy. Understanding every single message clearly will make it easy for you to care for your dog properly. It makes your friend a happy dog. 

Other guides and tools you might need when training your dog:

Frequently Asked Questions 

Your dog may be tucking her tail suddenly due to fear or anxiety. This behavior is common when dogs encounter unfamiliar surroundings. If you notice any other concerning symptoms, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian for further assistance.

Your dog’s tail is down due to fear, confusion, possible sickness, injuries, or other issues. Accurately identifying the underlying cause is necessary before taking any action.

The reason your dog shaking and tail tucked may be afraid of something or someone, such as a new environment, people, loud noises (like fireworks), or other dogs. It’s important for dog owners to understand their dogs’ feelings and help them cope.

Your dog is holding its tail weird in order to communicate with you. It may be trying to get your attention because it is afraid or sick. Look for signs of fear or illness and make sure to take care of your loyal companion.

Final Thoughts

A lowered tail between your dog’s hind legs can tell you many different things. It could be because your dog fears someone or something, a sickness, or even an injury.

Try to understand what it says exactly. Help your dog to cope with the situation, and NEVER OVERLOOK it. Seek medical help from your vet. 

This will prevent you and your dog from facing any unfavorable situations. 


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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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