Dear Miss Behavior: How Can I Get My Dog to Control His Tail?

Dear Miss Behavior, Our 90 lb. black lab is a gentle soul who loves children. Unfortunately his tail is wicked and can
knock them off their feet. It’s also very good at clearing off the coffee table. How can we get him to control his tail?


Oh my, that’s a tough one! That’s one of the reasons most of my friends are Aussies! Since I doubt you want to dock his tail, here’s some information about why dogs wag their tail and what we can do about it.

Dogs wag their tails when they’re happy, undecided, or angry. The position of the tail and the way the dog wags it tells a lot about their mood. I’m sure that Ebony’s tail is held in a natural position and wags freely, a case of the tail wagging the dog even. I’m also guessing that when he clears the coffee table it’s because he’s greeting people sitting on the couch?

Unfortunately we can’t control Ebony’s tail, and we don’t want to discourage his friendliness, but we can control his butt. Teach him to do a sit-stay when greeting people!

Use family members and friends to train your dog at first, then move on to strangers on the street, etc. Just ask Ebony to sit and stay while the helper pets them. If he breaks, the helper will back off and you will put him back into a sit-stay. This is a behavior to work on with all people who meet him. Be sure to let the helper (and any new person) know they can’t pet Ebony until he’s in a sit-stay.

marcygraybillAfter Marcy adopted her first dog in 1988, she began to research about dog care. Research took the form of checking out books and videos to learn how to train Lady. Eventually, Marcy and her sister began taking their dogs to the dog run and taking formal dog classes. For about six years, Marcy volunteered for the Capital Humane Society, where she performed a variety of jobs, and took time to watch the dogs and learn about their behaviors. Currently, she’s an obedience instructor at GLOC. “I think the most important is to keep up to date on what’s going on in the field.  I try to read articles, blogs and  new books that come out, and watch any DVDs that are available.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.