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View Full Version : Are dog tails waged involuntary?


obbn
08-16-2014, 10:44 AM
Hello Everyone,

I just told Gunner the Great Dane that he was a good boy and watched as his tail stated wagging and then cleared everything off the coffee table he was standing next to. It got me wondering, when a dog wags it's tail when happy is this a voluntary or involuntary action?

Chronos
08-16-2014, 10:53 AM
Probably somewhere in between. Is smiling voluntarily or involuntary? When you're happy, you don't think "OK, I'm happy, and therefore I think that I'll choose to smile"-- It just happens. But if you want to, you can still voluntarily smile even when you're not happy, or frown when you are.

jtur88
08-16-2014, 12:08 PM
Maybe more like a form of laughter. As we all know from study hall, it is theoretically possible to not laugh but pretty damned hard. It can also be done voluntarily.

Ulfreida
08-16-2014, 02:59 PM
I know it is voluntary, because if I hold up a sign that says WAG YOUR TAIL in front of my dog and say "can you do this? huh? huh? what does this say, huh?" he always follows the instructions.

BrotherCadfael
08-16-2014, 03:21 PM
I was unaware that dogs' tails earned wages...

Leaffan
08-16-2014, 03:43 PM
How much would you pay for a piece of tail?

Lacunae Matata
08-16-2014, 06:08 PM
I'm convinced that my dog has no higher brain functions, and she's a world champion tail-wagger, so I'm going with involuntary! (Truly, she's apt to put an eye out one day the way she wags her tail, especially if I've walked back inside after leaving for any length of time. She's just as happy to see me whether I've been away for a long weekend or walked out to the mailbox. And her wag starts at the neck and goes all the way to the tip of her tail - a pretty far piece on a Pyrenees/St. Bernard mix!)

Chronos
08-16-2014, 06:15 PM
Wage tail, not war.

LadyMadonna
08-17-2014, 12:25 PM
I believe that tail wagging can be both voluntary and involuntary. It is definitely not exclusively a sign of happiness. There are many accounts of injured or extremely sick dogs wagging their tails while being treated, but seriously doubt they were happy at that point. I personally watched my sister's dog wagging her tail as she was dying and in extreme pain. It's a picture I'll never get out of my head.

GusNSpot
08-17-2014, 01:24 PM
I'm convinced that my dog has no higher brain functions, and she's a world champion tail-wagger, so I'm going with involuntary! (Truly, she's apt to put an eye out one day the way she wags her tail, especially if I've walked back inside after leaving for any length of time. She's just as happy to see me whether I've been away for a long weekend or walked out to the mailbox. And her wag starts at the neck and goes all the way to the tip of her tail - a pretty far piece on a Pyrenees/St. Bernard mix!)

We have the same kind of dog mix.
Zeus (https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-88K_fs0aLeo/UkewrHB4KVI/AAAAAAAA_y4/a3v0QdzAxVo/s800/littlegirls040.jpg)

But he is very smart, has us trained well. He is brilliant on using his weight to get his way. :eek:

110 lbs last weigh in. :smack:

Is yours really that bad in the brain dept.??? Or was that more for the tail wagging part? :D

engineer_comp_geek
08-17-2014, 01:30 PM
Do Dogs Wag Their Tail Voluntarily or Involuntarily?
http://dogcare.dailypuppy.com/dogs-wag-tail-voluntarily-involuntarily-2889.html


Dogs can control their tails and their tail wags, but it appears they often start wagging out of instinct, not conscious thought. It's kind of like a human frowning. You might begin frowning as a response to, say, an inappropriate joke, but you can return your mouth to resting, smiling or a deeper frown at will. As such, tail wagging appears to be a response to stimuli that can be manipulated by conscious thought. That makes it part involuntary and part voluntary.



What a Dog’s Tail Wags Really Mean: Some New Scientific Data
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201112/what-dog-s-tail-wags-really-mean-some-new-scientific-data

Lacunae Matata
08-17-2014, 03:28 PM
We have the same kind of dog mix.
Zeus (https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-88K_fs0aLeo/UkewrHB4KVI/AAAAAAAA_y4/a3v0QdzAxVo/s800/littlegirls040.jpg)

But he is very smart, has us trained well. He is brilliant on using his weight to get his way. :eek:

110 lbs last weigh in. :smack:

Is yours really that bad in the brain dept.??? Or was that more for the tail wagging part? :D

No, she's really truly that stupid. Good thing she's sweet and pretty (https://plus.google.com/photos/103971772112701470673/albums/5694045562430459121/6048630485754586450?banner=pwa&authkey=CMLlj76w5OHsVw&pid=6048630485754586450&oid=103971772112701470673)! (Seriously, I used to "contain" her in this (https://plus.google.com/photos/103971772112701470673/albums/5694045562430459121/6048630574951566610?banner=pwa&authkey=CMLlj76w5OHsVw&pid=6048630574951566610&oid=103971772112701470673) hallway, by the simple process of "roll the high chair in front of the opening." She was trapped, then, and I could open the door to bring in groceries or sign for a package. She's 120 pounds of fur, drool, tail, and dumb. Very protective of her babies, though - trying to wash the 2-year-old's hair is a big adventure, because the baby screams, and the dog forces her way into the bathroom to make sure everything's okay, and then sits there to monitor the situation... the bathroom really isn't big enough for the three of us!

Prior to Pandora, we had Sebastian (https://plus.google.com/photos/103971772112701470673/albums/5694045562430459121/5759682352694233314?banner=pwa&authkey=CMLlj76w5OHsVw&pid=5759682352694233314&oid=103971772112701470673) - a purebred Pyr rescue, who started off as a foster. He decided quite early that he was our dog. Three times, we tried to place him with great families, with plenty of room for him to roam. (At the time, we thought we didn't have nearly enough outdoor space for him.) Each of the three times, he left his new families and started back home to us. The third time was right after we moved. He made it almost halfway home to us before a kind soul found him and got in touch. Halfway was about 20 miles! That dog was entirely too smart for his own good, so we joke that Pandora must have gotten her brains from the St. Bernard side of the family!

psychonaut
08-17-2014, 11:50 PM
Probably somewhere in between. Is smiling voluntarily or involuntary? When you're happy, you don't think "OK, I'm happy, and therefore I think that I'll choose to smile"-- It just happens. But if you want to, you can still voluntarily smile even when you're not happy, or frown when you are.Actually, involuntary smiles use certain muscles which cannot be controlled voluntarily, and this is reflected in the facial expression produced. With a little training it's possible to tell a spontaneous smile from a forced one.

GusNSpot
08-18-2014, 12:40 AM
No, she's really truly that stupid. Good thing she's sweet
::: snip ::::

Prior to Pandora, we had Sebastian (https://plus.google.com/photos/103971772112701470673/albums/5694045562430459121/5759682352694233314?banner=pwa&authkey=CMLlj76w5OHsVw&pid=5759682352694233314&oid=103971772112701470673) - That dog was entirely too smart for his own good, so we joke that Pandora must have gotten her brains from the St. Bernard side of the family!

Oh, beautiful doggies.... I like the hallway shot the best . The kid guard is worth the trouble IMO. Thanks for the pictures.

Sailboat
08-18-2014, 07:58 PM
Anecdotal, but our Simone seems to only wag consciously. She knew few if any dog cues when she was found wandering, starving. She didn't know "play stance" or wag her tail. I believe she'd been raised in isolation.

When I started socializing her, she'd simply stare at humans and dogs. Gradually she learned to play, but no matter how rambunctious she got, no tail movement when playing. It's like sbe didn't know to do it.

BUT at the dog park, she observed other dogs, and soon began wagging her tail--but only three or four slow wags at first meeting; the tail would go still after that. It certainly looked like a deliberate gesture. .."I am not your enemy. "

Lacunae Matata
08-21-2014, 01:42 AM
And here (https://plus.google.com/photos/search/%23Videos?banner=pwa&pid=6023114089108116002&oid=103971772112701470673) is a great exemplar for 'Dora. I had been out for about 45 minutes at the time. I swear, she's gonna put an eye out one day with that tail! (Please pardon the darkness of the video. Cell phone camera.)

Mama Zappa
08-21-2014, 09:57 AM
Probably somewhere in between. Is smiling voluntarily or involuntary? When you're happy, you don't think "OK, I'm happy, and therefore I think that I'll choose to smile"-- It just happens. But if you want to, you can still voluntarily smile even when you're not happy, or frown when you are.
Do you have scientific reason for making this statement?

Or is it just a WAG :D

Czarcasm
08-21-2014, 10:19 AM
Do you have scientific reason for making this statement?

Or is it just a WAG :DNo treat for you! :D

GusNSpot
08-21-2014, 03:13 PM
I checked last night. I am a good guy in Zeus' opinion..