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The Listen Dog Blog

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I'll be keeping it up-to-date with regular catch-ups on what I've been up to, plenty of original articles on obedience training and behavioural best practice, plus top tips and ideas you can work on at home with your own four-legged friend!


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A Tale Of Communication

By listendogtraining, Apr 8 2016 04:15PM

It’s incredible just how many emotions and messages dogs can convey through the use of their tails; for example, the way a dog carries its tail in a given situation can communicate his pack position (whether he believes himself to be undeniably the top dog with a tail held vertically, and curved over his back, or whether he’s feeling frightened or completely bottom of the pile, with his tail between legs), his state of mind (a lowered tail might signify that he is feeling uneasy or unwell whilst a fast tail-wag shows obvious excitement), and his true intention in spite of contradictory behaviours (for example a broad tail wag during play fighting is there to reassure everyone involved that the dog’s seemingly aggressive actions are for the purposes of play only, and that he means no harm).

It’s no surprise then that dogs with docked tails can often face problems when it comes to how other dogs respond to them in social encounters, as they are missing a vital communicative tool.

For example, they are unable to use a lowered tail to signify submission or appeasement if they need to, and they are also unable to offer a reassuring wag during otherwise seemingly aggressive play behaviour – two situations which could possible lead to an unpleasant encounter if the dog’s intentions are misunderstood as a result of his docked tail.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, docking was banned in England and Wales; however an exemption was put in place for spaniels, terriers and hunt, point and retrieve breeds that are used to work, as long as the docking is carried out by a vet within the first 5 days of the puppy’s life.

At Listen Dog, we strongly recommend you do not invest in a puppy with a docked tail – not only is it entirely unnecessary in a pet, but it will strongly hamper your dog’s ability to communicate with friends of his own kind… which could end him up in all sorts of bother!

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