Dog Has Tail Between Legs And Acting Weird – What Happens?

Dogs are known for their boundless enthusiasm and cheerful demeanor, but sometimes, they exhibit behavior that leaves us perplexed and concerned.

One such puzzling behavior is when a dog has tail between legs and acting weird.

As pet owners and animal lovers, it’s natural to worry when our canine companions display signs of distress or discomfort.

Together, let’s see the reasons behind a canine’s tail-tucking behavior and explore what may happen when your canine friend starts acting unusually.

What Happens When A Dog Has Tail Between Legs And Acting Weird?

dog has tail between legs and acting weird

When you notice your puppy with its tail tucked between its legs and displaying unusual behavior, it’s likely a response to common reasons such as fear, anxiety, pain, aggression, dominance or submission, social stress, medical conditions, hormonal changes, Limber Tail Syndrome, or infected anal glands.

Fear or Anxiety

Why is my dog tucking its tail and shaking? As complex creatures, dogs communicate their emotional state in various ways, and tucking their tails is a common response to fear or anxiety.

When a puppy is afraid, they may attempt to make themselves appear smaller and less threatening.

In addition, tucking tail behavior protects their vulnerable underbelly, which harks back to their evolutionary history when this posture could be a survival tactic.

Additional signs of anxiety or fear in breeds of dogs might include trembling, quivering, avoiding eye contact, excessive panting, pacing, or seeking refuge in a hiding spot.

Pain or Discomfort

Pain can result from common reasons such as injuries, infections, dental problems, digestive issues, or underlying health conditions like arthritis.

Do dogs tuck their tail when in pain? When a canine experiences physical pain or discomfort, they may also have their tucked tail as a response.

It’s essential to pay attention to other signs that may accompany tail-tucking due to pain or discomfort.

Look for additional symptoms such as limping, whining, biting near the tail base, being reluctant to move or engage in certain strenuous activities, or changes in appetite or drinking habits.


What does tail tucked between legs mean? Tail-tucking can sometimes signify aggression in animals, although it may seem counterintuitive.

If a dog feels cornered, threatened, or provoked, it might fold its tail as part of a defensive posture.

This behavior often occurs with aggressive signals like bared teeth, growling, heavy breathing, and raised hackles (the hairs along the dog’s back).

Aggressive behavior may stem from a variety of reasons, such as territorial disputes, resource guarding, fear, or perceived threats.

It’s crucial to approach a dog displaying aggressive habits with caution and seek help from a trainer or professional behaviorist to address and modify this behavior safely.

Dominance or Submission

Tail position is also a part of canine communication related to dominance and submission within a social hierarchy.

When my French Bulldog hid its tail tightly between its legs, I was told that it was typically a canine body language signal to express its fear of another dog.

In a multi-dog household or during interactions with other canines, a less dominant dog may exhibit this habit to show deference to a more dominant dog.

Similarly, a puppy may tuck its tail when interacting with humans or other creatures they perceive as dominant.

Conversely, a dog with high confidence and dominance may carry its tail wag or erect it stiffly to assert its position within the group.

Social Stress

Dogs are social animals, but they sometimes experience stress in social situations.

When confronted with strangers, animals, unfamiliar environments, extensive workloads, or loud noises, a canine may display a tail-tucking manner.

Social stress can lead to various classic signs, including dog tail hiding, hair loss, trembling, excessive panting, avoidance, or even submissive urination.

Recognizing when your furry friend feels socially stressed is vital, as these situations can be uncomfortable.

Medical Issues

Why is my dog’s tail acting weird? The behavior can also be a response to underlying medical issues.

Furry companions may tuck their tails to protect or alleviate discomfort related to specific health problems.

Some alarming conditions that could trigger this behavior include:

  • Digestive Problems: Gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating or constipation, may cause irritation and lead to tail-tucking.
  • Urinary Tract Infections: Signs of infection in the urinary tract can be painful, and puppies may tuck their tails as a response.
  • Allergies: Skin allergies can irritate and make pets uncomfortable, causing them to lick or scratch excessively or hide their tails.
  • Orthopedic Problems: Conditions like hip dysplasia or spinal issues can leave canines painful, making them adopt a tail-tucking posture to minimize soreness.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations can influence a canine’s behavior and body posture, including the position of their tails.

Female species, such as Golden Retriever German Shepherds, may tuck their tails during their heat cycle, which is a typical reaction to hormonal adjustments.

Likewise, male puppies may exhibit similar behavior when they sense the pheromones of a female in estrus.

Limber Tail Syndrome

Limber Tail Syndrome, also known as “swimmer’s tail” or “cold water tail,” is a condition that can affect a dog’s tail.

It typically occurs after strenuous physical activity, exposure to icy water, or prolonged rest periods.

Animals with this condition may have difficulty in tail movements, and they might hold them limp and close to their bodies. This can resemble tail-tucking behavior.

While Limber Tail Syndrome is typically not dangerous and often resolves on its own with rest and time, it’s essential to differentiate it from other causes of tail-tucking, especially if your furry friend has been engaged in vigorous activity or exposed to cold temperatures.

Infected Anal Glands

Dogs with anal gland issues may experience severe pain and engage in odd behaviors, such as changing the tail position to ease tenderness in the affected area when these glands are aching or irritated.

On either side of their anus, puppies have anal glands that might develop an infection or other problems.

Scooting, licking, and a bad smell for the anus indicate that the anal glands are inflamed.

How To Treat When A Dog Has Tail Between Legs And Acting Weird? 

How To Treat When A Dog Has Tail Between Legs And Acting Weird 

When you note the odd issues in dogs, you must address them with care and patience. Here are steps to consider for treatment:

Observe and Identify the Cause

Observing and identifying the cause of your dog’s tail-between-legs behavior is the first step in addressing their distress.

Carefully watch your pet’s actions, noting when this habit occurred and any potential triggers.

I also look for patterns, considering if they happen during specific situations or in particular environments.

Context is key; understanding the circumstances surrounding their behavior provides valuable insights.

Additionally, consulting with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues can guarantee your canine’s health.

Provide a Calm Environment

  • Create a Safe Space: Prepare a quiet and comfortable area where your pet can retreat when stressed or anxious. This space should be free from potential stressors like loud noises or unfamiliar people or animals.
  • Minimize Stressors: Identify and minimize sources of stress in your canine’s environment. This could involve avoiding situations that trigger anxiety or providing gradual exposure to these triggers while ensuring your dog feels safe.
  • Consider Calming Techniques: Some dogs benefit from aromatherapy, calming music, or pheromone diffusers. These tools can help create a serene atmosphere.
  • Avoid Overstimulation: Be mindful of overstimulating your furry friends, especially in situations where they exhibit anxiety. If needed, limit exposure to overwhelming stimuli and gradually desensitize them.

Avoid Punishment

It’s important to refrain from punishing your pet when it displays tail-between-legs behavior or acts unusually.

Punishment can exacerbate their anxiety or fear, making the situation worse.

Also, dogs may not understand why they are being punished, leading to increased stress and potential aggression.

Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and providing support to address the common symptoms of their behavior.

Consult a Veterinarian

Consulting a veterinarian is crucial if your canine friend exhibits strange body language, especially if it’s a sudden or unexplained change.

Common breeds may display such behavior due to underlying medical issues, pain, or discomfort.

A veterinarian can thoroughly examine, run necessary tests, and diagnose health-related concerns.

Addressing medical problems promptly is vital for the animal’s well-being, and it can also help track down physical causes before involving behavioral interventions if needed.

Consider Behavioral Assistance

If your puppy’s hind legs and tail behavior and unusual actions are related to behavioral matters, considering behavioral assistance is advisable.

Professional dog trainers or certified animal behaviorists can provide valuable guidance and techniques to address these concerns.

They can work with you and your dog to develop a tailored behavior modification plan and positive reinforcement strategies.

Furthermore, behavioral experts can teach you how to understand and manage your dog’s manners effectively, creating a more harmonious and stress-free environment for you and your pet.


In some cases, preventative medications may be recommended by a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist to deal with severe anxiety, phobias, or other problems that contribute to your pet’s distress.

These medications can help regulate your dog’s mood and anxiety levels, making them more receptive to behavioral training.

It’s crucial to follow your veterinarian’s guidance closely when using medication, as they will determine the appropriate type, dosage, and duration based on your dog’s specific needs.

Remember, medication should always be used with modification techniques for the best results.

Counterconditioning And Desensitization

Desensitization is a way of slowly exposing canines to the trigger or situation that causes their distress without compromising their safety.

This exposure starts at a level where your dog is comfortable and then slowly increases over time as they become more accustomed to it. Doing so can ease off their emotional response to the trigger.

Through counterconditioning, you can turn your canine friend’s negative emotional reaction to the catalyst into a positive one.

To accomplish this, associate the stimulus with your pet’s favorite activity, such as playtime, rewards, or praise.

Your dog gradually learns to link the trigger with satisfying memories, which lessens their dread and anxiety.

Provide Comfort

Providing comfort comes in handy when your dog is displaying tail-between-legs behavior.

Comfort can come in physical affection, gentle petting, soothing words, or being present with your dog. It reassures them that they are safe and loved.

Remember that every dog is different, so pay attention to what provides comfort for your specific pet.

Maintain a Routine

Consistency is key when dealing with a dog with a tail between its legs and acting strangely. Dogs thrive on routine, which offers them predictability and security.

Establish a regular daily schedule for feeding a nutritious diet, exercise, playtime, and rest. An ongoing plan can make your dog feel less anxious and unsettled.

Additionally, ensure that everyone in the household follows the same performance and guidelines for interacting with the dog to avoid confusion.

Monitor Progress

As you work to address your dog’s tail-tucking behavior and unusual actions, monitor their progress continually.

Please keep a record of their behavior, noting any changes or improvements. Be patient, as progress may be gradual, and setbacks can occur.

Then, share this information with your veterinarian or the professional providing behavioral assistance to adjust your approach as needed.


Why is my dog tucking its tail and shaking

When a dog has tail between legs and acting weird, it can be a sign of various underlying issues, including fear, anxiety, pain, or illness.

As responsible pet owners, we must pay close attention to our canine companions and seek pet experts’ guidance when needed.

By identifying the root cause of your dog’s behavior and addressing it with patience, love, and proper care, you can help your canine friend return to their happy and confident self.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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