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Why Do Dogs Walk Slowly With Their Tail Down? 7 Reasons + 3 Tips

Dog Walking Slowly With Tail Down

“Come here, my lil’ pooch.”

As your dog approaches you, you notice something.

Oh no!

Slow walk, tail down.

“Should I be worried?”

“They’ve never been like this before.”

Continue reading to learn:

  • Whether slow walking dogs are a matter of concern.
  • 9 things dogs are trying to tell you with their tails.
  • 3 tips to make dogs walk faster, the way they usually do.
  • What it means when your dog’s tail is down, limpy, or unlively.
  • And many more…

Why do dogs walk slowly with their tails down?

Dogs walk slowly with their tails down because they are not feeling well. They may be experiencing pain due to age, injury, or overexhaustion. Oftentimes they’re being submissive, insecure, stressed, scared, or nervous.

7 reasons why dogs walk slowly with their tail down

#1: They don’t feel good


“It’s time for me to play outside.”

The sun is officially out.

Your pooch is happy and so are you.

You finally take your dog out for a walk (a longer one) since they just stayed inside the house for days, due to the weather.

Because they weren’t able to run a lot and play lately, you decided to engage them in tons of exercises as well.

The next day, you notice your dog is walking slow, their tail down, and their eyes looking drowsy. 

Your dog is not feeling good and could be suffering from overexertion

This is when dogs exert their bodies too much on certain exercises that they end up exhausting themselves and straining their muscles.

Other signs your dog is having overexertion:

  • Looking tired.
  • Having pale gums.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling of weakness.

Along with these signs are their loss of appetite and desire to stay in one place.

The next time you take your pooch out for some workout and play, don’t overdo it. 

Especially if they just came from an inactive phase.

Read also: Why is my dog moving slowly?

#2: They’re insecure

“Is that even possible for dogs?”

Since dogs resemble humans in many ways, they also experience anxiety, boredom, fear, and the like. 

Insecurity is one of those phases as well. 

Due to this, dogs limit their feelings and their movement.

This happens when they find themselves in unfamiliar places or difficult situations.

That is why they walk slowly with their tail down, carefully scanning their surroundings.

Below are the dogs’ symptoms when they are insecure:

  • They tremble.
  • They prefer to hide.
  • They’re doing things out of character.
  • They’re either growling or keeping quiet.

It’s important that you know how to read and interpret the body language of your dog, so you’ll know how to help them become their usual cheerful self again. 

#3: They’re old

Your Old Dog Walk Slowly With Their Tail Down

“I’m not weak.”


Your dog’s mind may be strong but their body is slowly getting weak.

Unfortunately, they’re getting old and that is another reason that your dog walks slowly with their tail down.

According to AKC, senior dogs experience physical and mental changes as they age, although the rate of aging still depends on their breed and size.

Smaller dogs like Chihuahuas and Poodles are said to have longer lives than larger dogs. 

Therefore, the likes of German Shepherds and Great Danes are said to have shorter life spans. 

Below are the physical signs to look for in your aging dog:

  • Cloudy eyes.
  • Unpleasant breath.
  • Difficulty in pooping.
  • Difficulty in moving around.
  • Appearance of skin bumps.
  • Weight gain (due to inactivity).

Aside from the dogs’ physical changes, you can also check on their body language to know what they’re feeling.

Tail action

Elder dogs don’t wag their tails as much anymore. Their tails may already be sagging and this can be due to the pain they’re going through. 

They may already be having or experiencing arthritis, stress, or limber tail syndrome (more about this in #7).

Hunched back

This particular posture is a result of older dogs’ bodies slowly becoming frail.

It can also represent some medical issues related to their bladder, stomach, or kidney.

Rigid movement

Dogs’ way of walking also changes as they age. Some even end up limping because of the pain they’re feeling in their limbs.

Their aching body may be due to joint pains or arthritis.

Trembling body

A trembling body for aging dogs may be due to stress, injury, or weakness in the muscles. Even while standing up or lying down, the trembling in their body is evident.

Older dogs already have difficulty in fighting the changes in weather because they’re already more vulnerable to cold temperature. 

This may also trigger (if not worsen) their arthritis.

Frequent yawning

As dogs age, their sleep cycle also changes. Aside from sleeping at night, you will also see them snoring even during the day. 

Whenever you see them constantly yawning in the daytime, take them to a cozy and dark place to sleep because their body needs to adjust to these changes.

Indeed, it’s impossible to stop dogs from aging, but you can always make the process more bearable for them.

Be by their side as they go through this phase.

#4: They’re being submissive

Dogs walk slowly with their tail down whenever there are stronger (and scarier) dogs around.  

This is their way of sending a message to the pack leader.

It’s like telling them that they acknowledge their presence and that they’re not a threat.

Dogs are also submissive to their fur parents. 

“Oh really? How?”

Yes, walking slowly towards you with their tail down can also mean they’re ready to submit to you.

You’ll know they’ve let their guard down when they do the following:

  • Shows their belly.
  • Avoids eye contact.
  • Grinning in a cute, harmless way.
  • Flattens their ears against their head.

When you see your dog do these, go ahead and give them a comforting belly rub and a gentle and loving back rub.

#5: They’re stressed

“Why does my dog look so burdened?”

Did you ever wonder why your dog seems to have bigger problems than you?

You always feed them on time, give them love and attention, buy them toys, give them treats and more. 

Well, maybe it’s not you. 

It’s not them either. 

There could be other factors around both of you that are causing stress to your dog, and you just have to figure that out to remove that burden.

Stressors can be anything or anyone.

It could be your loud neighbors, the boisterous neighborhood dogs, your chatty bestfriend, your new pet cat, and much more.

You just have to do some trial and error to rule out stressors and point to the main reason of your dog’s stress.

For example, if it’s your new pet cat, try to not put them in the same room for now. Both pets need to adjust to each other and you don’t need to rush that. 

They (or you) will eventually find a way to make them like each other but for now, give them enough time to accept the fact that they have a new sibling.

#6: They’re nervous and scared

Has your pooch been hanging with no one except for you lately (or ever since)? Do they not mingle with the other dogs, too? Are they always aloof towards other people?

A study by Science Direct states that fear is an important emotion for a dog’s survival. 

However, that same emotion can cause suffering.

The common root of anxiety in dogs are:

  • Strangers.
  • Loud noises.
  • Unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Separation from their owner.

According to AHS, there is still hope for your dog. They can still gain (or re-gain) their confidence with your help. 

With this, you must have enough patience and ample time to train them consistently.

However, a total shift and transformation is not guaranteed. 

When this happens, don’t force your dog anymore, maybe they’ve always been nervous and shy, even during their pup days. 

Further reading: Why is my dog scared of me but not my wife?

#7: They don’t feel well

“Mama, I feel sick.”

Okay, your dog won’t probably tell you that. 

So you must know how to interpret their body language to find out what they’re feeling at the moment

Then, you’ll also know if they need medical attention or not.

Your dog’s tail is a good indicator of what they’re feeling.

It may be down because they’re trying to control or prevent the pain they’re experiencing.

Limber Tail

This is when your dog’s tail becomes limp from the tip to the base, unable to wag normally. 

A sprain in the muscles is the reason behind this.

Other factors could be:

  • Swimming.
  • Cold weather.
  • Changes in climate.
  • Lack of proper physical conditioning.
  • Extended confinement in cramped spaces (e.g. crate).

Tail Fracture

If your dog has a fractured tail due to injury (e.g. accidentally stepped on, trapped, grabbed), be extra cautious. 

A fractured or dislocated tail is sensitive and painful to touch. 

The tail can heal on its own but be sure to keep your dog in a safe place as they’re undergoing the healing process, to make things easier for them.

Tail Tip Injury

If your dog is an enthusiastic wagger and then suddenly you notice them not being their usual self, then their tail could be injured.

The injury could be due to hitting furniture with their tail, the walls, or any objects nearby. 

You may think this is harmless but this can actually pose danger to your dog due to possible infection.

As these instances can cause abrasions on your dog’s skin as well, it hinders the blood from flowing freely to their tail, the reason why it remains down.

Warning: Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice this on them because this can lead to partial tail amputation if ignored.

How can I make my dog walk faster? 3 tips

#1: Moderation is key

When it comes to giving your dog the right exercise, always keep in mind that moderation is key.

Do not rush your dog in doing varying workouts especially if they’ve been inactive for days.

Let their sleeping muscles be fully ready again by taking it one step at a time.

You can try doing the following first:

  • Day #1 – slow and short walks within your block.
  • Day #2 – mild and longer walks (e.g. two blocks).
  • Day #3 – do light jogs alternating with longer walks.

After that, you can finally engage your dog into a run.

Also, AKC suggests doing warm-up and cool-down exercises first if you plan to expose your dog to difficult workouts in the future. 

Proper physical conditioning is important to keep them healthy and strong.

Don’t forget to allot rest days as well because they (and their muscles) need to rest and recuperate.

You’ll see he’ll be back on his paws in no time, running and having fun.

#2: Socialization

A study by NCBI says that socialization should begin in the dog’s puppy stage.

This helps them grow up having joyful, positive, and lasting relationships with their owner. 

Aside from that, they won’t be afraid when they encounter other adult dogs in the future.

Slowly expose them to different types of dogs – large, small, and different breeds. 

Take them out to meet other hoomans too, so they won’t feel aloof when they grow up. 

Bring them to new places and let them play around.

Treat your dogs the way you’re treating a child. After all, they’re your baby, too.

#3: Roomy space

If your dog has been hitting furniture and other objects constantly, they might not be confident to run around the house anymore. 

Instead of playing, you’ll see them surveying their surroundings and slowly walking with caution. 

You can try making your house a little more dog-friendly. Move large furniture to the side and keep the center an open space for them to play and explore. 

This is also good for you because this prevents further damage to your dog and the other objects in the house.

People also ask:

Do dogs walk slower as they age?

Dogs walk slower as they age, indeed. They also become weaker, so they don’t have the strength to protect themselves from illnesses that come with old age.

For example, dogs who are aging are already prone to arthritis, dementia in dogs known as Cognitive Canine Dysfunction, and other chronic diseases.

If your dog is already nearing this stage, visit your vet so you’ll know how to prepare and help your dog in times of need.