November 5, 2007
Tell Tail Tales
I've been watching my dog Yoda wag his tail for the last 4 years but never thought it was of any use... other than to express joy!
Then I read somewhere that dogs wag their tails when they are happy and when they are 'anxious'.
Now what could a dog be anxious about? Especially a dog like Yoda who has a great life... food served in his plate all the time, two walks a day, loads of fun toys... visitors every other day... fultooo fun!
Fear of crackers... is one of the reasons for anxiety it turns out... I have been watching Yoda bark at crackers the last few days (as it nears Diwali) and his tail is also wagging vigorously.
I bought a book called The Dog Whisperer a few days ago, (at the Odyssey sale) and it says that dogs get rid of their stress in two ways... yawning and wagging their tails! I had seen a show on the National Geographic sometime back.
This set me thinking... wouldn't it be wonderful if we could do the same... get rid of our day's stress by just wagging our tails a few minutes a day. Yawning we do... and that puts us to sleep.... but is there some way to remain awake and not be too stressed out?
It turns out that we (humans) had the same option thousand's of generations ago and the reason for all the 'lower back' pain that all of us are experience these days is because we 'lost' our tails.
I'm not joking... there is actually scientific studies that support this point of view. See what I found...
The pelvic floor responds to stress. The mechanism of response can be understood when you look at a dog's tail. A dog's tail mirrors the emotions. When the dog is happy, the tail moves from side to side very loosely. When the dog is stressed, the tail pulls tightly between its legs. The pelvic floor muscles are the tail-waggers. When men and women lost the tail (during evolution), they still retained the muscle structures. When we stood upright, they become supporting muscles rather than waggers. But, nonetheless, when humans are stressed the tail pulls forward ... the coccyx pulls forward. When it pulls forward, it compresses the organs that run through those muscles and it pulls them up against the pubic bone. So it seems logical that all this stress is simply because we lost out tails. It we just got the back that would end all the tensions in the world.
I was speaking to Yoda's vet (Dr. JP) the other day and asked him why people cut off the tails of some breeds of dogs. He said the reason was cosmetic and not scientific... if we (as a visitor to the house) did not see a 'wagging tail' - we considered the dog aggressive... so to make a dog 'look' aggressive... they chopped off the tails.
But my conclusion is that the reason why dobermans and rotweilers are such aggressive dogs is because they cannot relieve their tension by wagging their tails!
P.S. Think about this when you decide to chop off the tails of those cute puppies. The fact that the Dog Whisperer book was on sale also says a lot about the level of people wanting to understand dogs.