Dog Barking And Wagging Tail: What Does It Mean?

It can be confusing to see your dog barking and wagging their tail. On the surface, they might appear to be excited and happy. On the other hand, they might be nervous or attempting to say something completely different. 

So what does dog barking and  tail wagging mean?

Let’s look at the reasons behind behind a dog’s barking and wagging tail and what you can do about it.

When a dog barks and wags its tail, this is usually due to excitement, playfulness, attention seeking behavior, anxiety and protective behavior. To determine the cause of your dog’s barking and tail-wagging, it’s impotant to pay attention to their body language and the surrounding environment to help you understand your their behavior.

Dog Barking And Wagging Tail

Is It Normal for Dogs to Bark and Wag Their Tail?

It is normal for dogs to bark and wag their tail, because both barking and tail wagging are common behaviors in dogs which can happen at the same time. However, it is important to keep in mind that each dog is unique and that they may display this behavior for different reasons. 

Reasons for Dog Barking and Wagging Tail

Excitement 

Excitement is a common cause of a dog barking and wagging their tail. Dogs are social animals and they often get excited to see people or things that they love. This can include their owners, other family members, or even just visitors to the home.

When excited, they may bark and wag their tail as a way of showing their joy and excitement. They may also jump up, run around, and engage in other playful behaviors. 

Barking and tail wagging due to the excitement is usually also accompanied by other positive body languages, such as a relaxed posture, wiggling their butt, and a happy facial expression.

Playfulness

Playfulness is another common cause of a dog barking and wagging their tail. Dogs are by nature active and curious creatures who frequently enjoy playing with their owners and other canines. 

In order to invite their owners or other dogs to play with them, playful dogs may bark and wag their tails.

A dog may become playful for a variety of reasons, such as toys, other pets, or even just the chance to run around and explore. 

They may bark, wag their tail, run around, fetch toys, or play tug of war in addition to engaging in other playful behaviors.

Attention seeking behavior

When your dog keeps barking and wagging their tail at you, they may just be seeking attention from you. 

Dogs are highly social creatures and long for human interaction and attention from both their owners and other people. When they don’t receive enough attention, they might turn to barking and tail-wagging to get attention.

They may bark and wag their tail when they want to play, be petted, are hungry, thirty or desire to be involved in an activity. If they are bored, they may also bark and wag their tail in an effort to interact with you.

Attention-seeking behavior is also usually accompanied by other behaviors including jumping up or pawing at you.

Anxiety

Anxiety also causes dog barking and wagging of their tail. A dog may feel anxious due to several reasons including the fear of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms, separation anxiety, or unfamiliar situations or environments.

When a dog is anxious, they may bark and wag their tail to show their distress or to try to let their owners know what they need. 

Other anxious behaviors include pacing, panting, shaking, or hiding, which may also be present in addition to barking and tail wagging. 

Protective behavior

Since dogs frequently guard their homes and families, they may bark and wag their tails to warn of or repel perceived threats.

Numerous things, such as the approaching of strange people or animals, loud noises, and strange sights or smells, can cause a dog to become overly protective. 

A dog acting protectively may bark, wag its tail, and exhibit other actions meant to dissuade or repel the perceived threat, such as growling, lunging, or showing teeth.

What to do if you see your dog barking and wagging tail

To determine the reason for your dog’s barking and tail-wagging, it’s important to pay attention to their body language and the surrounding environment. This will help you in knowing what to do next which includes:

Observing their body language and keeping an eye out for other clues in your dog’s posture, facial expression, and ears to help you better understand how they are acting.

With this, think about any potential causes of your dog’s barking and tail-wagging or potential recent events. This will assist you in figuring out the cause of this behavior.

Once you have a better understanding of their behavior you can act in a way that is appropriate and meet your dog’s needs. For example, you may need to give your dog extra attention or playtime if they are barking and wagging their tail due to playfulness or attention-seeking behavior.

When to seek help 

Consult a veterinarian or a trained dog trainer if you are unsure of the cause of your dog’s barking and tail-wagging. They will give you advice on how to best handle your dog’s behavior and assist you in understanding it.

The veterinarian can also recommend a qualified dog trainer who can explain your dog’s behavior and how to handle it.

A veterinarian should also be consulted for dog barking and tail wagging in the following instances, that is, if:

  • The behavior is sudden or unusual: If your dog’s barking and tail wagging are sudden or unusual, it could be an indication of a medical condition or psychological problem. 
  • The behavior is frequent or out of control: If your dog’s tail-wagging and barking are out of control or frequent it could be dangerous. 
  • The behavior endangers your dog or other people: It’s important to seek professional assistance as soon as you can if your dog’s barking and tail wagging are endangering them or other animals, that is, if it is difficult to manage due to aggressive barking and tail wagging. 

Any underlying triggers that may be causing the above behavior can be identified by a veterinarian.

What not to do for dog barking and wagging tail

Here are a few things you should avoid doing if you see your dog barking and wagging their tail:

Do not yell at your dog: It can be detrimental to punish your dog for barking and tail-wagging, and it might even make the problem worse. Instead, make an effort to comprehend the cause of your dog’s behavior and give them the attention they require.

Don’t ignore your dog: Ignoring your dog when they are wagging their tail and barking may not address the underlying cause of their behavior and may result in future wagging and barking. Rather, make an effort to interact with your dog and figure out how to meet their needs.

Avoid rewarding unwelcome behavior: If your dog’s barking and tail wagging are unwelcome or inappropriate, avoid rewarding the behavior by giving them attention or treats. Instead, make an effort to draw their focus to an action that is more appropriate.

Key Takeaway: Dog barking and wagging tail 

A dog barking while wagging their tail is among the many behaviors that dogs display and is a result of different situations. 

Therefore it’s important to pay attention to their body language and the surrounding situation to determine the exact reason for your dog’s behavior to be able to respond in a way that meets their needs.

If you are unsure of the cause of your dog’s barking and tail-wagging consult a veterinarian or a trained animal behaviorist for determination of the cause and specialized guidance for your dog.

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