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My Dog Never Wags His Tail: 9 Surprising Reasons + 3 Tips

My Dog Never Wags His Tail

You come home and open the front door.

Your dog is there to greet you but something’s wrong.

You keep looking at your dog trying to figure out what it is.

But then…Light bulb!

Your doggo’s tail isn’t wagging.

A million questions race through your mind.

“Is my dog hurt?”

“Is he angry or sad?”

“What can I do to solve this?”

Keep on reading to discover:

  • 3 tips to help your dog wag his tail.
  • 9 reasons why your dog never wags his tail.
  • A simple way to help scared or nervous dogs feel at ease.
  • Whether you should ignore the behavior or do something about it.
  • And many more…

Why does my dog never wag his tail?

Your dog never wags his tail because it’s injured. It can be a limber tail, fractures, nerve damage, or back problems. Your dog could also be scared or nervous about their surroundings. It can also mean that your dog’s not a tail-wagger or is simply comfortable with you.

My dog never wags his tail – 9 reasons

#1: Doggo’s not a tail-wagger

Yep, you read that right.

Your dog’s not a wagger. Sometimes it happens.

But it doesn’t mean that their tails will never wag.

They will wag sometimes, but not like other dogs.

Remember all dogs have different personalities. Some dogs get excited easily, while others are just chillin’.

Don’t worry if your dog rarely wags their tail. It’s not the only sign of happiness.

Tail wagging indicates that your dog’s emotions are high.

Curious dogs sometimes do little wags with a low tail.

Alert or defensive dogs also wag their tails. 

The tail is one of the many ways dogs communicate.

“But how do I know if my dog’s happy?”

There are other signs of doggy happiness:

If your pup displays the above signs, it means that they’re happy even if their tail doesn’t wag.

#2: A fractured tail

Did your dog suddenly stop wagging their tail? 

Do they whine or cry while looking at their back?

Has your energetic dog gone quiet, not wanting to move?

If they always direct their attention to their back end, your dog may be in pain.

One reason for that is a fractured tail. 

“How do dog’s tails get fractured?”

According to VCA, it happens when a heavy force slams down on your dog’s tail.

It can be when a door closes on their tail. Or hits any kind of hard surface.

“Is it dangerous?”

It depends on the location of the injury. 

Small fractures near the tip of the tail will usually heal on their own.

While fractures at the base of the tail can mean nerve damage. 

If the dog’s tail appears crushed, it may need an amputation. 

Warning: In any case, take your dog to the vet and do not attempt to treat a fractured tail by yourself. 

#3: Your dog has a limber tail

Your Dog Never Wags His Limber Tail

Limber tail is a condition that happens to sporting dog breeds, such as:

  • Hounds.
  • Beagles.
  • Pointers.
  • Retrievers.
  • Labradors.

The official name is Acute Caudal Myopathy.

It’s like spraining our muscles when we overuse them with no proper warm-up.

It can happen when your dog jumps right into high-energy activities without preparation.

According to PetMD, swimming is the most popular cause of limber tail. 

Especially if your dog does it for a long time in cold water.

“How do I know my dog has a limber tail?”

You’ll know if your dog does the following after a high activity day:

  • Weight shifting.
  • Licking or biting at the area.
  • Partially or completely limp tail.
  • Reluctant to squat to poop/pee.
  • Trouble getting up or balancing.

Note: Most limber tails will heal on their own, but take your dog to the vet for examination. 

Your vet will lightly touch your dog’s tail to determine the location of the sprain. 

This will also help them rule out other conditions or injuries that might be the cause of the pain. 

Some dogs may need anti-pain meds as the pain is too great for them. 

And not taking medicines will interfere with their appetite and daily activities. 

When your dog has recovered, make sure to prepare them for strenuous sports.

#4: Nerve damage

Your doggo’s tail has a lot of nerve endings. They’re protected by the tail bones but they can get damaged. 

It’s a very sensitive area for your pooch which is why most dogs don’t like their tails touched. 

Avulsion injuries is the term for severed nerves in the tail. 

It happens when the tail is stretched to the point that the nerves break. 

Warning: Tail pull injuries can damage the nerves that control the bladder and bowels. This results in an incontinent dog. They will have trouble controlling when they poop or pee. 

This is why it’s important to teach young children not to pull on a dog’s tail. 

They can react in unpredictable ways and result in dog bites on the child.

Read also: Why Do Dogs Arch Their Backs? 13 Reasons & 9 Situations

#5: Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)

Between the spinal bones in your dog are discs that serve as shock absorbers. 

As your dog ages, health conditions may cause the disc to harden or even rupture. 

The hard discs don’t have the ability to cushion the spinal vertebrae. Instead, they will press against the spine causing nerve damage or paralysis.

This disease is common in breeds with short legs like the Beagle, Dachshunds, or American Cocker Spaniels. 

In 2017, researchers conducted a study on the DNA of the breeds above. 

They found that these dogs are 50 times more likely to have the genetic mutation that causes IVDD. 

It’s a very painful disease that will need medication, therapy, or surgery.

This condition can happen to the discs on the:

  • Neck (Cervical).
  • Back (Thoracolumbar).
  • Lower back (Lumbosacral).

But it’s diseased discs on the lower back that can cause a limp tail.

The vet neurologists of Matthews NC, state that the severity of LIVDD symptoms can vary.

It can be:

  • Limp tail.
  • Dilated anus.
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence.
  • Pain and/or difficulty jumping.

#6: Osteoarthritis

This is a condition that affects your dog’s joints. 

Between them, is a cushion made of specialized cells called the cartilage. 

It protects your doggo’s joints from shocks or compression forces when they jump or run.

But the cartilage can get damaged or break down. It can be due to inherited conditions or bone injuries.

If it’s not there, the bones will keep rubbing against each other and cause inflammation. 

It can result in lower back pain especially in dogs with hip problems. 

Moving your dog’s tail is painful so they stop wagging.

The disease appears in dogs of any age but mostly in:

  • Obese dogs.
  • Athletic dogs.
  • Large breeds.
  • Senior pooches.
  • Dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia.

Up to 80% of dogs older than 8 years are affected by osteoarthritis.

You might also be interested in: 13 reasons why your dog grunts and groans (all the time)

#7: A nervous or scared pooch

Have you gotten your dog recently?

Were there any changes in your life and routine? 

Like moving to a new place, family members leaving, or new additions to the family?

Or did your dog have any recent traumatic experiences?

If yes, you may have a scared or nervous dog in your hands. 

“What makes a dog scared or nervous?”

Dogs like a consistent routine and a major change can throw them off the rhythm.

New places and people will scare them especially if you have a shelter dog. 

And if your dog had a bad experience with something, they can withdraw into a shell. 

Take for example…

This Rottie’s story

A dad of two teenage girls shared this story on the Internet. Their male Rottweiler was very protective and loyal to his kids. 

One night while the parents weren’t home yet, the girls took their dog for a walk. 

After they got back inside, they were surprised when the dog started barking and lunging.

It turned out that two intruders had gotten inside the house by breaking a side window. 

The brave Rottie charged at them. The two men scrambled to get outside. But when he got near them, one intruder managed to hit the dog with a bat.

After the girls called the police and the parents got home, they took their dog to the vet. He had no visible injuries.

But the next day, the family noticed something wrong with their dog.

The Rottie seemed to withdraw and stayed in one place for hours. Loud noises from outside would startle him. He would jump up and start barking at the window where the men broke in.

The reactions lessened after a few days but the poor dog still got scared and even avoided the window.

The family got a certified behaviorist and trainer. It took some time, but they were able to desensitize the Rottie.

We often hear or read stories about dogs saving their owners but we seldom know what happens next. 

Want to know how to treat scared or anxious dogs? 

Keep on reading to find out.

Further reading: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Afraid Of You + 3 Tips

#8: That’s a comfortable doggo

In reason #1, we talked about how your dog’s tail isn’t an indicator of happiness but of emotional arousal. 

If your dog is in a space where they can just relax with no pesky stimulants, there may be no tail wagging. Even if their dog sees their favorite human.

My friend’s dog does this exact thing. She would only wag her tail if her dog parents get home. 

But when she’s just lounging around the house, she’d only use her face, ears, and eyes to express herself. 

#9: They’re not interested in you

Okay, okay. I can hear your gasp of outrage from here. 

Let me explain. 

This can happen with dogs who have jobs. 

Service dogs or therapy dogs at work are focused canines. Their training helps them to ignore distractions from their work.

They’re not there to be friendly with you but to support their handler. 

Warning: Don’t disturb working dogs. Don’t ask if you can pet them. They’re still at work. Distractions could result in accidents that cost lives.

My dog never wags his tail – 3 tips

#1: Observe if there are injuries to their tail 

Even if there are many ways dogs can communicate, their tail is one of the main instruments. 

And if they stop wagging their tail, it means something is wrong.

Keep an eye on your dog’s tail if this happens. 

It usually means pain from an injury, a fracture, or a bone disease that prevents them from wagging.

Tail injuries are painful as there are a lot of nerve endings in the tail.

Take your dog to your vet for examination if you see these behaviors in your dog:

  • Lethargy.
  • Looking at their tail.
  • Licking or biting the tail area.
  • Crying or whining if something touches it.

The vet may prescribe the following medications or treatments depending on the results:

  • Surgery.
  • Therapy.
  • Anti-pain meds.
  • Anti-inflammatory meds.

#2: Don’t overdo their exercise

Your dogs can damage their tails if the muscles are overused. 

For example, swimming can result in a limber tail. Other high-energy activities like hunting can also cause it. 

We warm up our muscles before doing any exercise. Our dogs need that, too. 

Don’t let them do it right away. Do it in small doses at first.

Then gradually increase the intensity and how much exercise your dog has.

#3: Use the proper training techniques (for scared or nervous dogs)

Desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques will help scared or nervous dogs have happier lives.

According to the SPCA, these will change the way your dog reacts and feels toward their fear. 

It teaches dogs a better way to respond.

Watch this video for an example of how a training session with these techniques will go:

If your dog gets scared or nervous easily, take note of their triggers. 

Avoid them when you go out on walks until your dog has completed training. 

Note: Work with a certified animal behaviorist or trainer who uses these techniques. They will help you help your dog.

People also ask:

What does it mean if a dog doesn’t wag its tail?

A dog doesn’t wag his tail because it might be injured and they are in pain. The dog can also feel apprehensive about you so they don’t do any movement.

Tail injuries and diseases are painful for a dog:

  • Arthritis. 
  • Limber tail.
  • Slipped disks.

It doesn’t mean that the dog isn’t friendly. You can look at their body language for clues:

There should be:

  • Relaxed body.
  • Ears to the side.
  • Soft eye contact.

Can dogs be happy without wagging their tails?

Dogs can be happy without wagging their tails. It means that they’re relaxed and comfortable in their space.

Tail wagging doesn’t equal happiness. But it does tell you when your dog is emotionally aroused.   

But if undisturbed by distractions their whole posture relaxes.

According to PetMD, these dogs are so comfortable their whole body is loose, soft, and wriggly.

How do I get my dog to wag his tail?

You can get your dog to wag their tail by initiating playtime. Dogs wag their tail when excited about something. 

So keep that tail waggin’ by doing these activities with your pooch:

  • Fetch.
  • Sniffari.
  • Tug-of-war.
  • Agility training.
  • Hide the treat-and-seek.